Mr. F. H. PICKEL (Brome-Miasisquoi):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to offer my congratulations to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) upon the manner in which he presented his budget speech. Seldom has this house been treated to such a full and clear picture of our assets and liabilities. Upon his creditable performance of this huge task the minister deserves congratulation.
During the present session I have remained quiet in my seat; in fact at no time have I been noted for' kicking up a disturbance. I have been pleased with the legislation brought down in the last five years. It is to my liking; and the reform measures which the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) forecast in his radio speeches furnish another reason wthy I am perfectly content. I am very sympathetic towards them, and I trust that as a result of the findings of the price spreads commission much useful and necessary legislation will follow.
It is strange, Mr. Speaker, the change that has taken place in the mentality of this house in the last five years from the point of view of agriculture, and that is the topic in which I am particularly interested. Many measures have been enacted for the benefit of the farmer, and I trust .that many more will be brought forward as a result of the findings of the price spreads commission. I am convinced, sir, that this parliament has enacted more useful agricultural legislation than has been passed in any previous quarter century. As the Prime Minister told us in his radio addresses, times have changed and we must change with them. That is very true. The policy of the Prime Minister is to uplift the little fellow. The capitalist and the industrialist 'has had his own way for a long time uncurbed, and as in the case of the individual, it has proved Ids undoing. He has gone too far, and reform must take place in a quiet and evolutionary manner or we shall have something serious on our hands. The standard of living has been raised so high in this country, and in fact all over the world, that it is only the capitalist and the industrialist and their executives who are permitted to enjoy that standard of living. As I said, the Prime Minister's policy is to uplift the little fellow so that he too may ' enjoy a better standard of living and take in the show. Years ago the best and most solid citizen in Canada was the agriculturist, but to-day he is the puniest, the tiniest, the lowest graded class in the whole dominion; yet
he constitutes fifty per cent of our population. That is a strange thing, Mr. Speaker. We have gone on in this country building up industries. We have had an industrial mania not only here but all over the world, and the little fellow has been left too much to float along alone. Like the products of no other class in the community, the products of the farmer- his butter, his cheese and everything else that he produces-are shipped to the cities, there to be distributed by middlemen who fix the price and reap millions out of the farmer's labour.
I have heard some hon. members speak about the importance of our coal mines and other minerals. But compare them with agriculture and they do not make a very good showing. The minute you take an ounce of gold out of the ground the mine has depreciated by that much, but agricultural wealth is a perpetual asset and should be continuously increasing in value and making new wealth. But at the present time the farmer is beaten out.
I want to refer for a moment to the standards of living and the high cost of living, and I do not think I can do it in any better way than simply to mention the golf links and golf courses that abound around our cities and towns. Millions of dollars are invested in these courses, and who enjoys them? Only the capitalist. The farmer never plays golf. The nearest the farmer ever gets to playing golf is when he knocks the dried-up tufts of fertilizer around his fields with a mallet. That is all the golf he gets. Take a train leaving any of our cities at noon in the summer and you will find it filled with men going out to the golf courses, all togged out in their knee-high pyjamas and other accoutrements. Why, Mr. Speaker, the cost of a pair of golf hose would buy two suits for a farmer. The farmer is wondering where he is going to get his next pair of overalls. That is the position in which he finds himself.
The farmer in normal times is by long odds the heaviest consumer, the heaviest buyer in the Dominion of Canada. Let him get his jjust share of what he produces and he will be able to absorb one-half or three-quarters of the present day unemployment. But to-day the farmer is unable to buy, and what work is done on the farm he has to do himself.
As_ I said a few minutes ago, we have gone industrially crazy, and we have done so at the expense of the primary producer. The capitalist has been misled. He has suffered from a sort of greed for gain. That is his hobby, and that has been the trouble-how much he can make. He has been given all power; he has been unbridled, unchecked, and
The Budget-Mr. Picket
it has simply been the means for self-destruction. We cannot go on in the way we are going. The capitalist will have to be curbed. The Prime Minister states distinctly that he does not intend to do away with capitalism, but he intends to reform it, to eliminate its bad features and retain the good ones. It seems to me that that would be a perfect solution. Along in 1927, 1928 and 1929 we saw an example of what a standard of living could be. We saw men with money and men without money but with facilities to borrow falling over each other in brokers' offices to buy stocks. Many of these stocks were all right but they were paying only two and two and a half per cent in dividends. I can give another example. In the small town in which I live we are paying more to-day to light our streets than we paid twenty-five or thirty years ago for all our taxes. Under these circumstances I submit that we must do one of two things. We must either reduce the standard of living or lift up the little fellow so that he can bear his share of the load. I am for lifting up the little fellow, because the country in which the standard of living is the highest is the better place in which to live.
As a general rule I do not indulge in political discussions in the house; we have far too much of this. But I cannot allow the remarks made by the genial and popular member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Howard), on January 31 to go unchallenged. The hon. gentleman gets so enthusiastic about his political views that he is often led astray and makes many misstatements of fact. His speeches are not usually full of moderation but I think in this instance he outdid himself. He was outlining certain things which this government had done, and on page 367 of Hansard he is reported as saying:
The duty on butter, under the King administration, was four cents per pound.
I submit that the hon. member must have known differently; he must have known that the duty was one cent per pound and that we brought in over 41,000,000 pounds of butter during the last years of the King administration. He then goes on to make a mountain out of a molehill.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE