The statement I made was that their legislation has not been favourable to production. Mr. Robson writes:
Dealing with it as a measure to repress profiteering, I have further objection to the Pair Prices part of The Combines and Fair Prices Act (which is the important part of that Act) in that it picks out for profit regulation those classes of producers and traders who deal in the necessaries of life. This regulation does not apply to the great number of other branches of business and occupations. We restrain and discourage the citizen who supplies food and clothing but leave free to profiteer as he pleases the man who deals in nonessentials or luxuries. We do not touch any excessive charging for service involving mechanical or professional experience. There can only be one effect, i.e., to discourage persons from entering into the production and distribution of the necessaries of life.
There is, to my mind, further objectionable discrimination in that the measures for controlling the selling prices of the retailer are in terms fairly effective, while those for reaching the manufacturer are not so.
A profiteering measure to reach the distributing class should, in my opinion, be local in its character and be administered locally. Federal machinery cannot reach the grievance effectually throughout all Canada.
It seems to me further that the Act actually contains a provision which removes the last chance the consumer had to do anything for himself in reducing the cost of living. There never was before the Act anything to prevent a group of consumers from co-operating in the purchase of necessaries. They took their chance of being able to buy. But a declaration of parliamentary policy crept into the Act, and a manufacturer or wholesaler is not bound to
sell to classes who were not accustomed to purchase from such manufacturers and wholesalers. This was designed to head off cooperative movements, which were likely to make progress for the benefit of consumer members and, as I say, restricted a remedy which elsewhere has been of some effect in price control.
If the remarks I have made need any proof, Mr. Speaker, I think you have it there in what Mr. Eobson states, and you have it on the authority of a man in whom the Government had such great confidence that it put him in control of the Board of Commerce.
I do not wish to take up very much of the time of the House, Mr. Speaker, because I find as I travel through
4 p.m. the country that the people believe Parliament wastes too much time in discussion on the reply to the speech from the Throne. But before I sit down I wish to assure the Government of my appreciation of the honour they conferred upon me in my recent election by sending three of their ablest cabinet ministers all the way down to New Brunswick to help my opponent to lose his deposit, especially at a time when Parliament was in session and such very important matters were before it for consideration. I believe that one of those ministers, the hon. Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen) could hardly be reconciled to the statement which I made at that time that I considered that this visit or visitation of these cabinet ministers to my constituency increased my majority by at least one thousand votes.
Well, Sir, I will try to enlighten him. I was nominated and ran as an Independent candidate, pledged to support any measure which I believed was for the best interest of Canada, irrespective of which party should introduce it. So that this very decided opposition of the Government to my election seemed to the electors of my constituency to be an admission by the Government that they did not intend to introduce any legislation that would be in the best interests of the people, and my electors resented it. Some of the electors were even mean enough to say that this assistance to my late opponent was for -services rendered in the last general election.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I wish to correct the false impression, which, as 'I have said before, some hon. members seemed to have or were trying to have: That the Independent party in this House is here to submarine the fiscal policy of Canada in the interests of the farmers, regardless of all other industries or people in this Dominion.
I wish to assure this House, so far as in me lies, that we are here not to tear down, but to give what assistance we can towards the building up of a Greater Canada, so that not only the people of this Dominion but the people of the whole world may say, "Surely Canada is a bit of God's own country."
Mr. WILLIAM A. BUCHANAN (Lethbridge) : Mr. Speaker, I will be quite frank at the outset and say the remarks I am about to make are not inspired so much by the speech from the Throne as by the amendment offered by the hon. leader of the Opposition. I am in this position that, so far as I am concerned, an election can come at any moment; but at the present time I want to make a choice and in making that choice I desire to consider the interests of the section of the country from which I come, and at the same time I do not want to be sectional in the observations I make though I wish to make them from the standpoint of the western provinces.
The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) has moved an amendment demanding an election. Next year we know that a census is to be taken in this country, following which census there should be a redistribution, and in my judgment, as a result of that census and redistribution, we would have, in the Prairie Provinces, or if you were to take all the western provinces, twenty new members in the House of Commons. If I were to support the amendment of the leader of the Opposition and it carried, what would be the result? There would be an election as there was in 1911, and the West would not obtain, for four or five years to come, its full representation on the census of 1921. If the Government is prepared to state that there will be a census and redistribution next year, I prefer to take chances on the Government of the day rather than to withhold for four or five years the proper representation that the West should have in this House. I know there are represented in this country and in this Parliament of the Dominion of Canada interests which are anxious that the West should not have its full representation until the last possible moment. I do not know whether the leader of the Opposition desires to associate himself with those interests in Eastern Canada; but we know that those people do not want Western Canada to have any larger voice in the affairs in this country than it has at present if they could in any way withhold the representation to which Western Canada is entitled. In the West we feel that
we are entitled to our full representation, and that, if we are to have an election at this time, that representation will be delayed for foui or five years.
May I be personal for a moment and explain my position as a member of this House? 1 do not feel at the present time that I am wedded to the support of the Government of the day. I feel that I have fulfilled my obligations to Union Government, because I was elected as a Liberal supporting Union Government. I advocated Unionism and supported it; I was elected as a supporter of Union Government for the purpose of carrying on the war, and, in my judgment, that period has elapsed. But am I at this moment to precipitate an election and thus prevent the section of the country in which I live from having its proper representation in the Commons of Canada? I prefer to act as a free lance in this House, and to avoid an election if necessary, in order that Western Canada may have, as soon as possible, its full and proper representation in this House. What would happen if we were to defer the question of an election for another year? We have only this choice to make: We have the Opposition and we have the Government; and so far as I am concerned, the toss of a coin would satisfy me in that respect and probably would satisfy a good many people in this country. I am prepared to take a chance on the Government (for another year in order that we should have a census and a redistribution. I believe it would only be necessary to have one session of Parliament following the present session before we could have a redistribution and before an appeal could be made to the country on the basis of a representation in accordance with the census of 1921.
I have no hesitation in saying that 1 believe that Union Government fulfilled the purpose for which it was elected. I have always said so, and I have no apologies to jnake for supporting Union Government. But when we come to times of peace; v'hen we are to discuss domestic problems, then there is bound to be a probability that I shall differ with this Government and that I shall want to align myself with those who agree with the views that I have consistently advocated in times of peace. I am perfectly satisfied with the record of Union Government as a war Government, and I think history will prove that Union Government served the purpose for which it was elected and was a great necessity to Canada in war time. I hope I have
made my position clear on the question of the amendment.
I am not in favour of the amendment if we can have an election next year following the census and a redistribution. I prefer to carry on for the present in order that Western Canada may have its proper representative voice in the affairs of this country. As -I said before, I know there are people and interests who do not want Western Canada to have its proper representation in this Parliament at the present time, I am not prepared to encourage those people in their views; on the contrary I am content to wait for the earliest possible realization of the representation to which Western Canada is entitled.
As I said in rising, my main purpose in speaking this afternoon was to make myself absolutely clear as to my attitude towards the .amendment. While I am on my feet I should like to make some observations regarding what has been called the unrest which exists in this country and how it is best for us, as a people and as a Parliament, believing in the institutions which exist in Canada and which are the foundations of the Government of this country, to act towards this seeming unrest. I know there is a good deal of agitation in the country. There is what might be called revolutionary sentiment in Canada. People are going about spreading new doctrines, and what are we as members of Parliament and as citizens of this Dominion doing to combat that sentiment ? I do not believe in repressive measures, but I do think we should have educational measures to counteract the agitation which certainly exists throughout a good part of the country. We should go out and educate as to our system of Government the new citizens of this Dominion, the people who are being appealed to by thes.e agitators. We should let them understand that they have in this land the fullest freedom and opportunity to realize their ambitions if they can convert the majority of the people to their views. We should do that rather than adopt repressive measures which would make them feel that that kind of freedom does not exist in this country. It must be remembered that I am not in sympathy with the views that are being advocated by those people, but I am expressing my views as to what we should do to combat them in the best way so as to avoid further trouble and to restore amongst those people confidence in our institutions.
Many charges have been made that there is profiteering in this country; and that the control of the Government is in the hands of a few people. If that be the case, it is our duty to remove that control. If it be not the case we should enlighten the people. I happened to read the other day an article in an American paper concerning a district affected by the recent steel strike. One of the causes at the back of that steel strike undoubtedly was this continual talk of profiteering; that the steel corporation and its shareholders were making huge returns from the business and that the employees were not getting their fair share. One steel factory in the state of Ohio, taking its employees into its confidence, had enlightened them as to the business, as to the dividends that were being paid and as to the cost of operation. And as a result those men were satisfied that the industry was paying them all it could afford to pay them under the circumstances so that, when the steel employees throughout the United States were called upon to strike, the men at this particular mill did not go out. I think there is an obvious, lesson there for all the industries of this country, and that is, to enlighten the men who are serving in those industries and to enlighten the people in reference to these charges of profiteering. That can be done quite easily, and it will save a great deal of the industrial unrest that exists, and help to remove a great deal of the suspicion which exists in the minds of the people. I believe that a good many of our industrial troubles in Canada are due to suspicion more than to anything else. The men are suspicious of their employers, and the employers are suspicious of the men identified with their unions, and this feeling of suspicion prevents them getting together. If both sides would only come out in the open and deal frankly with each other, a great many of our industrial difficulties could be avoided.
It has been my custom in this debate to make a declaration of my views on the fiscal policy of the country. I want to say that I stand where I have always stood, in favour of the lowest kind of a tariff. But I would say to the Government and to the House that in regulating the tariff we should aim at relieving the burdens that are imposed upon the mass of the people, and aim also at the development of our natural resources. If we could have had a tariff in this country that would enable all the implements of production that are used in
the development of our resources to be got as cheaply as possible, it would do a great deal for the development of our resources and toward relieving the country of its financial obligations. If the implements that are used in mining, for instance, in lumbering, in fishing, and in agriculture, could be made as cheap as possible to the people who'are producing along those lines, there would be an encouragement to greater production, and the richer the country becomes in production the better position we shall be in to meet our financial obligations. I am not one of those who believe we can go out and slash the tariff all to pieces at the present time. I know that for some years to come we must utilize the tariff for raising revenue. But, the tariff should be directed wholly toward raising revenue, rather than to, protecting certain industries that have enjoyed protection in this country for a great many years. Possibly, members of the Government who are not moving around so much and getting in touch with the minds of the people would like to know what the feeling of the people is with regard to the protected interests. To be frank, the great mass of the people, who are finding it hard to live to-day, and who see everything they buy rising higher and higher in price, realize that the men who are engaged in the protected interests in this country are living in comparative ease and comfort, having amassed a considerable fortune. They say that is due to the high protection given to those industries. Surely if the men engaged in these protected industries have amassed fortunes through a protective tariff, it is time we reduced that tariff and gave the people who are working day in and day out to make an honest living a chance not only to do so, but to save a little. That is the view of the people I come in contact with from day to day. We must have a tariff to raise revenue, but I do not think that tariff should be directed towards the protection of industries that have enjoyed protection in this country for so many years.
I should like to make a suggestion about the income tax. I am an advocate of income tax. I Relieve that if it is properly administered it can be made to yield a great revenue to this country, but I feel (and I do not place the blame on the Minister of Finance) that the tax has not been efficiently administered up to now, and that we are not getting from it the amount of revenue we should. I believe there are people who are evading the tax. I have only recently received communications intimating
that some people are boasting that they have not paid the tax while some of their neighbours paid it. I have not their names or I would be glad to give them, for I have no sympathy with any man who evades paying the taxes imposed in this country. At the same time, I feel the administration has been weak, largely because an attempt has been made to centralize it'instead of spreading out the organization a little more widely in the different provinces. In the province of Alberta, for instance, until quite recently I understand we had only one income tax officer, located in the city of Calgary. Another officer has since been located in Edmonton, but the oflicers must be closer than that to the population of the country, or they cannot reach the people who should pay the income tax. I think there should be officers in all the larger centres of all the provinces. I believe the expense would be repa>id a hundredfold by the intimate knowledge they would have of the people liable to pay this tax.
I should like to make another observation. We have at the present time government ownership of railways on a very extensive scale, and I am glad we have it. I believe that government ownership can be made a success, and the Government of the day should see that every effort is made to encourage the efficient operation of our government roads, but I do hear complaints that some of the roads we have had in our possession for some years are not being operated efficiently-that the roadbeds have not been improved to the necessary extent to make operation successful. As an advocate of government ownership I would urge the Government to use its utmost efforts to get at the head of the Government system the most efficient administrator that can be obtained. We have a big system, bigger than the Canadian Pacific. I do not think the question of salary should be a consideration. We should get the very best railroad man.on this continent at the head of the system and pay him a big salary. That is the only way to make the system a success. Politics should be kept [DOT] entirely out of the operation of the system. So far as I know, politics have not entered into the operation of the railway, but the people generally feel a little doubtful of the success of government operation, and it is up to the Government to prove that government operation can be made a success; if they do, the people will be satisfied.
In closing, I should like to pay a tribute to the attitude that has been taken recently by the President of the Privy Council (Mr.
Rowell) in connection with the reservations to the Peace Treaty proposed in the United States Senate, which, if adopted, would take away from Canada its place in the League of Nations. I believe that the President of the Privy Council has the bulk of the people behind him in his attitude. I do not want to see Canada participate in any more wars, but I say that the part Canada played in the recent great war in Europe entitles her to a place in the League of Nations, and to a voice in deciding whether or not there shall be wars in the future. I have no desire to cast any reflection on the United States, but I will boast of this fact, that Canada was in the war from its inception, and sacrificed thousands of men for the principles for which they were fighting; and this nation therefore has just as much right to a voice in the councils of the League of Nations as has the United States of America.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.