May I say, too, that
we have in my county the largest flower producing centre in the whole world. One plant alone covers forty acres, all under glass. For the information of hon. members who are not familiar with the town of Brampton, may I say that the greenhouses, if placed end to end, would extend a distance of over nine and three-quarter miles. That florist industry gives employment to over six hundred people. For that reason the terms of the Canada-United States trade agreement, which is mentioned in the speech from the throne, and which is to come before the house, are most important in so far as that agreement affects the florist industry of the Dominion of Canada, and the cut flower business, in which so many working people are interested in our particular constituency. It is my great hope that the government will see fit to remedy any defect which may have caused concern to the working men of my riding, and that they will see to it when the time comes the remedy will be both swift and sure.
I would also like to point out that the agreement between the United States and Canada which will shortly come before this house for attention contains something which
The Address-Mr. Graydon
must be dealt with in detail later on, as it affects the fruit and vegetable men in the southern part of the riding which I represent. I am hopeful that' the expressions in the speech from the throne do not mean that seasonal regulations and dumping duties will not be available for the protection of the farmers whom I have the honour to represent.
I am not going to take up the time of the house by a lengthy address; in the county from which I come we believe in short sermons, short editorials, and short speeches. But I should just like to point out that I wanted in this preliminary way to raise my voice on behalf of three particular sections of our community, the farmer, the workingman and his family, and the new generation, the youth of our country, which perhaps need as much attention as any other section of the community. The man on the back concession, the workingman in the poor home, and the young man who is not able to find a job in this peculiar world, are watching eagerly the deliberations of this first session of the eighteenth parliament of Canada. I hope they will not be disappointed. They ask for leadership. They have been seeking it through many different channels. Let us hope that the leadership which will be provided by the government of our country will be of a quality which will be worth something to these three sections of the people; that it will actually amount to something beyond mere words; that words will be translated into concrete action looking to instant and permanent relief.
Therefore I say to the government of our country to-day, in all honesty and sincerity, that I do hope something along this line will be accomplished. I hope that their efforts will meet with the success that they themselves hope for; and I trust that our Conservative party, small in numbers though it may be, may play some definite and valuable part in assisting to bring to the Dominion of Canada the better times which you and I, Mr. Speaker, are so anxious to see prevail. I should like to offer the cooperation of one of the humblest private members in the house to the end that something practical may be done, and that mere partisanship shall not occupy the attention of the house to the extent that some who have voiced opinions suspect has been the case in the past. I hope we shall be able to throw aside in some degree party prejudices and do something for the man on the back concession, the workingman and his family, and the young men and women who have just come out
of school and are looking to the government of Canada to accomplish something worth while.
Mr. ELIE 0. BERTRAND (Prescott) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, at the outset of this session, I cannot, as a representative of the French Canadian minority in Ontario, refrain from expressing the grief felt by the people of this province at the death of our beloved sovereign George V. I wish to offer to His Gracious Majesty Edward VIII our deepest sympathy and also extend to Queen Mary and her family our sincerest condolences in their misfortune, to the new king a long reign, marked by peace and justice for all the citizens of the empire.
We are pleased to find in the speech from the throne the following paragraph with reference to the international situation.
The seriousness of the international situation has contributed to the world's anxieties. My ministers are confident that they express the convictions of the people of Canada in adhering to the aims and ideals of the League of Nations, and in seeking in unison with members of the league as well as with other nations to support by all appropriate and practical means the maintenance of peace and the establishment of a world order based on justice and equity.
The effect, sir, of the last war, our losses in men, the obligations we then assumed, the problem of pensions to veterans, our enormous war debt which is heavily burdening the Canadian people, all this obliges us to ponder seriously when a question of war crops up. On this score, I think we should, on behalf of our fellow citizens of Ontario, congratulate the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) for his admirable explanation of the Riddell motion at Geneva, in connection with sanctions against Italy on certain products, notably oil. The government is entitled to our congratulations on the attitude they took in this matter. Let our watchword be to avoid taking any responsibility regarding wars in foreign countries, and believe this will be a great step towards preserving peace all over the world.
Mr. Speaker, before going further, I wish to state that we of the Liberal party are highly pleased to congratulate you upon your appointment to the speakership. Your are eminently qualified for the high office you now occupy and the House will certainly benefit from your wide knowledge of parliamentary procedure and the fairplay which you have always shown during the many years when you were, so to speak, the guide of our party.
I wish to extend my congratulations to the hon. member for Parry Sound (Mr. Slaght),* who so ably moved the address in reply to the speech from the Throne. In a sound and
The Address-Mr. Bertrand
eloquent speech, he proclaimed the policy followed by our party and, he certainly did credit to the constituency which has just elected him. The entire representation of Ontario is proud to include within its ranks such a distinguished barrister.
I must also congradulate the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemon.t (Mr. Fournier) on his splendid debut in the House, as an orator. He reflected honour on his compatriots and will certainly he thie pride of his constituents.
I also deem it appropriate, sir, to congratulate the right hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King and his cabinet on the stupendous amount of work they have accomplished since the elections of October 14. We have already felt, in various parts of Canada, the benefit of the trade treaties concluded with certain foreign countries, notably with the United States. Carloads, even entire train-loads of cattle have already crossed the 45th parallel. The increased prices that have resulted to the producers have been a great boon to that portion of the farming community. Although we will not know before January, 1937, the tangible results of this trade treaty between Canada and the United States, which has been effective from the beginning of January, partial statistics are already available. In Alberta, the new trade regime was inaugurated by the shipping of a train-load of cattle at the beginning of January. Two other trains of 15 carloads have since been shipped. These are merely the most outstanding transactions; the treaty has also produced results in other domains for instance, in the prices of certain articles, even before it became effective.
This treaty was followed by a trade agreement with Japan which, imparting renewed activity to our lumber industry, provided employment to a large number of our workers.
Mr. W. R. Beatty, of Pembroke, Ont., who recently retired from the presidency of the Canadian Lumbermen's Association expressed himself as follows when presiding over the 28th annual convention of the Association, held recently at the Mount Royal hotel, in Montreal:
The newly-signed trade agreement between Canada and the United States will mean increased shipments to our friends to the south of us, according as recovery advances.
In normal times the United States need our lumber, and our lumber manufacturers need the American market; the treaty may gradually restore to us all of our lost markets. The renewed trade relations with Japan are also a reassuring promise, especially as regards the Pacific coast lumber industry which relies mostly on exports.
These are results which should rejoice us, they also prove that the Government's policy will find markets for the products which we cannot consume in Canada, and which must necessarily be sold abroad.
The speech from the throne also mentions unemployment, a national problem and one of the most pressing that faces the government. We were already aware that the government intended to allow more scope to the provinces and municipalities in this connection. This is confirmed in the speech from the throne it is stated that a federal commission comprising provincial and municipal representation will be created in order to study this problem prescribe remedies and find the best possible means of relieving the situation until the day when normal business recovery will entirely absorb the unemployed, who today number 400,000 but were far more numerous some time ago.
It is further stated that concentration camps will be broken up. All agree that these concentration camps should disappear at the earliest possible date.
The government would do well to take up such matters immediately and, with the cooperation of all interested parties, to find profitable work for the unemployed, as well as for those who are now in concentration camps.
Besides the agricultural problem to which I shall refer in a moment, we must take into consideration the large number of unemployed in this country. The government must not undertake to foster immigration to this country before the work and the development of our natural resources require it.
I wish to briefly broach the subject of amendments to the British North America Act. The question is certainly a very delicate one and we, the French Canadian minority, should give careful consideration to it. On more than an occasion and even on the floor of this house, the hard struggles which the French Canadians had to endure in order to safeguard their rights in Ontario have been discussed.
Some contend that the minorities of all country have had to undergo such struggles, that they are part of history throughout the various periods and that it will always be so. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, as a race, we certainly have our rights in this country and no amendment to the British North America Act must, in the future, prevent their recognition, both from the standpoint of religion and of nationality.
The speech from the throne goes on to say that necessary legislation will be brought
down in the course of this session to control credit and the issue of currency through the medium of the Bank of Canada. This is another delicate question; however, the Liberal party has already stated its policy in this regard, and we are proud to note that a bill will be introduced in the course of this session which will put this country in full control of our credit and of the issue of paper currency. This will perhaps prevent certain classes of our population to loudly proclaim, as they have been doing for some time past, that capital and wealth is created through the development of our natural resources and that this wealth could be easily distributed among all classes of society by the simple expedient of issuing paper currency. We must have faith in the future of our country and save it from bankruptcy. We must congratulate the government, which will, at the first opportunity, assume control of this credit, but it must not be to the benefit of certain classes only; it must be distributed equitably among all classes of the community.
It will certainly prove difficult to attain such an object, because every member of this house is aware of the large number of pamphlets, newspaper articles, editorials, resolutions from boards of trade, groups of business men and financial institutions of all kinds throughout the country which insist that parliament and the government find the necessary means to reduce expenses in a manner such as it has never been done before in the administration of our dominion or of any province. If such a policy was carried out, the people would be the first to suffer. Such are the means proposed to save the country. In all these resolutions we are urged to practise economy; but whom are we to ask to do so? Certainly not the unemployed, nor the workers whose wages are insufficient to give them a decent livelihood, nor the agricultural classes which are on the threshold of bankruptcy. Who shall be requested to practise such economy? The government simply provides the bare necessities of these people.
We know that the Liberal party has always been recognized as the party that has most practised economy, while safeguarding the interests of all classes of the country's population. We hear among the people such remarks as; You Liberals are always elected when the Conservative party has expended all the revenues of the country and there only remains for you to foot the bills. We are perhaps entitled to such an heritage which is certainly a compliment to the Liberal administration.
I cannot entirely agree with what the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) has just stated in connection with currency; however, it might perhaps be appropriate to point out, notwithstanding all the propaganda that is now carried on, that Canada is actually indebted to the extent of $3,000,000,000; moreover, she has guaranteed the liabilities of railway and other organizations to the amount of $1,600,000,000, while municipalities are indebted to the extent of $1,500,000,000, forming a total of $7,100,000,000 on which interest has to be met. Actually there are other liabilities for which the people are responsible for instance those of school boards and other public utilities. And we are urged in all the articles I have mentioned, to maintain the present rate of interest, to meet our obligations, to keep the country's credit intact, to avoid repudiating our debts and the guarantees we have given. Thrift is preached to those who are in want, in order to safeguard accumulated wealth by continuing to pay the same rates of interest. The average rate of interest on the total debt to which I have just referred amounts actually to 4i per cent. I base such figures on an article which appeared in "Saturday Night," entitled; Retrenchment, not conversion, the remedy. Note well that in this article it is absolutely urged that the 4J per cent rate of interest be maintained; it was even higher before certain conversions were carried out last year. By reducing the rate of interest to 3 per cent an amount of more than $100,000,000 would be economized yearly. This would mean a mere trifle which, according to these people, should be disregarded, because the word conversion would mean repudiation.
I must frankly confess, sir, in the face of conditions such as have been prevailing since two years, the working classes cannot live as comfortably as they did a few years ago owing to the lack of work; the farming class is passing through a period of crisis such as it has never experienced in the past.
These people are urged to economize or to content themselves with the little they have, but when the government wishes to take over the control of the country's credit it is urged not to interfere; when it is a question of putting the lid down on the possessors of great wealth, the government is asked to prevent their income from falling to the level of those of other classes; it is even requested to protect them because, otherwise, it would be equivalent to repudiation and would, therefore, harm the country's credit.
The Address-Mr. Bertrand
May I be so bold, sir, as to state that something must be done, that I belong to the younger generation that want to see, in the near future, Canada grow, become prosperous and blossom out into one of the finest countries of the world; but may I also point out that there is a growing feeling among the younger generation that its chances of success are slight and that in the struggle for life, it is denied the advantages enjoyed by the preceding generation because we are handicapped by the fact that capital is given more protection than the people. I therefore beseech the government not to neglect this serious problem but, with the help of the Bank of Canada, and its own authority, to find the best solution in the very near future.
A few moments ago, sir, I stated that I would give some details in connection with the problems of the farming class. I wish especially to deal with the subject from the Quebec and Ontario farmers' standpoint. I want first to state that many factors favour the Quebec farmers, notwithstanding the criticisms directed against the Taschereau regime which has been in office in this province for a number of years. May I point out that the taxes levied on the farmers of Ontario are 250 per cent higher than those levied on the farmers of Quebec. I reside in a county where only an imaginary line divides Quebec from Ontario; this permits us to draw comparisons which I could furnish to the house. However, this would not settle the problem which we have to face. I shall, therefore, refer only to the taxes which are levied on the farming class. In doing so I shall even go back thirty years the better to set forth the agricultural problem and the difficulty of remaining on the land. It has been contended that colonization could settle the unemployment problem. It is an easy matter to state that this question may be solved by settling a large number of our unemployed on colonization land. I reside in an exclusively farming county, yet we have never succeeded in the past in settling our farmers' sons on lands located in the northern parts of Quebec or Ontario. They had to abandon their farms because they were unable to meet their obligations and thus they increased the number of unemployed in small towns located close to their abandoned homes. This is a problem which needs the attention of all governments, both provincial and federal.
Continuing the comparisons, may I state that school, municipal and county taxes on 100 acres of land in Ontario in the Ottawa valley, amounted to $38 in 1901; to S60 in 1914; to $175 in 1930, and to $193 in 1935, That is, in 35 years, an increase of 500 per cent for these taxes alone.
The dominion government taxes are levied on the entire population; however, when so levied, the farmers are included. I shall therefore add these taxes to the figures that I have just quoted in order to point out the difficulties the farmers have to contend with.
The taxes levied by the dominion government, per capita, amounted to $8.72 in 1901; to $16.56 in 1914; to $36.01 in 1930, which is an increase of 120 per cent. The provincial taxes, per capita, amounted to $1.85 in 1901; in 1914, to $4.49; in 1930, to $17.50, an increase of 300 per cent in the last 30 years.
So as not to delay unduly this debate, I shall simply quote the prices on farm implements required by the farmer. In 1914. a six-foot mowing machine cost $43.50; in 1935, $97.50. A six-foot binder was worth $102 in 1914 and $205 in 1935. A hay cart cost $60 in 1914 and, in 1935, $122. A fifteen-discs sowing machine sold for $69 in 1914 and for $160 in 1935. These are increases ranging from 125 to 150 per cent in prices of farm implements.
The index figures of agricultural products were, in 1914, as follows: farm products,
69; field products, 64; animal products, 79; making an average of 65-5. I have compared the figures between 1914, 1930 and 1935. In 1930, the same index figure was 86-6 and in 1935 it was 71. The value of farm products has therefore increased seven points on 64, or about 9 per cent, while the farmer's liabilities have increased 125 to 150 per cent on farm implements which he must necessarily purchase; 500, per cent in connection with school, municipal and [DOT] provincial taxes; 120 per cent as regards dominion taxes and 300 per cent for other taxes. It is therefore obvious that the situation in which the farmer is placed, at present is so difficult that we fear he will be unable to survive in our section of the country.
The economic situation with which the farmer is faced is somewhat as follows: one-third of our population barely receives 58 cents from the sale of their products instead of the dollar which they received, for instance, in 1929, the year when the index figure was 100. In other words, their purchasing power has dwindled to 58 per cent and, when these people purchase in their turn, they realize that prices of articles they require, far from having dropped proportionately to their purchasing power, are still 90 cents instead of a dollar. The result is that the farmer refuses to make purchases or that he buys less than two-thirds of what he requires. The depressing effect of this depre-
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis
ciated purchasing power on trade as a whole is so obvious that it is unnecessary further to stress the point. It is unquestionably obvious.
I shall close my remarks, Sir, by requesting the government to realize the necessity of helping the farming class as well as the other classes I have mentioned. Since 44 per cent of our population are farmers, it behooves us to find the means to relieve the farmers as soon as possible. The new markets abroad will certainly help us to dispose of our products; as the demand increases, better prices will prevail; we all agree on this point. That is why we wish to congratulate the government for what it has already achieved and further encourage it to take all necessary steps to reestablish equilibrium between every class of our community, in order that all classes of citizens inhabiting Canada may earn a livelihood and prosper in our country which we desire to see great, for the happiness of all.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY