Mr. W. A. HALL (South Bruce):
Mr. Speaker, at this late stage in the debate may I be pardoned if I forego the oft repeated and well deserved congratulations that have prefaced almost every speech and proceed at once with what I have to say?
The speech from the throne, though like its author in many respects, is lacking in that brutal frankness and explicitness in which the Prime Minister prides himself. As is the custom, the speech foreshadows a number of measures which the government proposes to present to parliament, but it does more; it insinuates that the late administration had no eyes with which to peer into the future and that as a consequence no measures were advanced which would have relieved the present distress. In effect the speech from the throne says that if there had been adequate protection in past years the present depression would have been prevented, yet strange to say the speech also admits that Canada is better off than most countries. If that means anything it means that Canada, without a high tariff wall, is much better off than those countries which have built up high protection, such as Australia, the United States and other high tariff countries. That being the case, why raise the tariff wall?
The reference in that speech to agriculture is not very encouraging, especially to the western farmer, as it is a wait-and-see policy, leaving conditions pretty much alone and watching developments.
This reminds me, Mr. Speaker, of a case of acute blood poisoning to which I was called in consultation. On asking the attending physician his treatment, the answer was,
"I am leaving her pretty much alone and watching developments"-effective and heroic treatment, indeed. But the critical depression of the west ought to be a challenge to this government to do something. But what it has done by increasing the cost of production and by losing their markets, has added greatly to the distress of the west, besides destroying the morale of the people.
According to the speech from the throne, Mr. Speaker, the country is every day in every way getting better and better since the first dose of the Tory patent medicine at the special session in September, and all that is required now to bring about complete recovery is a larger does of the same medicine. This high tariff medicine is rather nauseating and languishing to some of us, especially to the agriculturists, but wonderfully delicious and invigorating to many others, particularly to the manufacturers and some deluded farmers. As a proof of this improvement the Tory press is printing stories of factories humming that were closed or languishing during the late administration but now have long payrolls instead of bread lines as before.
But what are the facts? According to the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, the industrial production of Canada in 1930 fell by 14 per cent as compared with 1929. The fall was chiefly after July 28. The corresponding decline in Britain was only 10 per cent. In Canada from 1924 to 1929 inclusive, there was an annual increase in production of 10 per cent. What a striking contrast in the volume of output during the administrations of the low and of the high tariff medicine men.
Doubtless, Mr. Speaker, there are some industries that have been revived by the Prime Minister's stimulant and are being nourished on the fiscal dole. Yet these gains are offset many times by other productions being slowed down. Manifestly this government realizes that the symptoms of depression have been growing worse, with a consequent increase of unemployment, notwithstanding what they say to the contrary; as a result they are preparing a strong and drastic dose of stimulant in the shape of higher and higher customs taxation. But the primary reason for this is to reward those money interests that had spent so much in the recent campaign to elect the present government. However, the first dose of medicine satisfied the capacity of only a few of the great multitude clamouring for reward. Doubtless these increased duties will impose additional burdens on the people for whom the depression of general business was otherwise bound to reduce the cost of living.
The Address-Mr. Hall
Apparently, Mr. Speaker, the chief task of this session is a general upward revision of the tariff. I need scarcely say that the main concern of the government will be the interests of the manufacturers. But there seems to be no one in this government to care for the consumer, although he is everybody. The staple argument just now is that the provision of work for our own people justifies all increases. Apparently no account is taken of the fact that there is no real market for what is produced, as exports are greatly reduced because imports are blocked. Besides that, the high cost of living reduces the power of buying and so lessens the home market. Also, in these days of less and less hand labour, it is the machine chiefly and not the man that finds more employment. But who controls the machine? It is he who gets the profits-the manufacturer.
Notwithstanding this condition of things, there are daily bulletins in the Tory press showing how business is humming as the result of the new duties which the people now have to pay to keep certain helpless industries alive. The speech from the throne also smacks of the same boast. It was part of the bargain that they should get going and expect further tariff increases during the present session. This looks bad for the farmers, especially for those in the prairie provinces. These men of the west, almost in despair because of unsold crops, or of low prices for w'hat they do sell, or of excessive rates of interest, or of high rates of transportation, or of many other difficulties of which the rest of Canada has little conception, are compelled to buy much of what they need from the very interests that seek the higher taxation. This increase may force prices up or at least prevent their decline, while all other prices are being reduced. As a consequence, the manufacturer, without raising the price of his goods, is, by increased protection, making a much larger profit. Thus he is able to hide the real benefit that increased protection gives him behind the pledge that he will not raise his price but just increase his profit. It will be noticed that this pledge fixes the manufacturer's prices, at least indirectly. This is preposterous. What other classes have their prices fixed? The prices cannot go up and will not come down although everything else is down. What about the agriculturist?
I have always sympathized strongly with the farmer. No one is more resolutely opposed to tariff raising, such as was so recklessly practised at the first session of this parliament and such as seems likely to take
place this session, according to the speech from the throne. May I say that secession talk is of little advantage as a threat, whether its origin is in the maritimes or in the west?
However, Mr. Speaker, I frankly confess that this government has a strong mandate from the people of Canada to do what they did at the emergency session as well as to cany out what is promised in the speech from the throne. But what is strange is the fact that this mandate came from many of the rural districts. Apparently the farmers of the Canadian west were hypnotized by the Prime Minister through his nostrum of duties against the other countries of the world as well as by the hope of getting local industries at their doors on account of protection. Besides, the Prime Minister assured them that this nostrum was a good old family medicine, tried and proved, and must be all right. Indeed, Sir, John A. Macdonald had dispensed the same kind of medicine fifty-three years ago, with wonderful results-yes, with wonderful results for the Tory party, but with disastrous results for the country. By the way, it was first compounded and dispensed on the American side.
The manufacturers at that time succeeded in getting trade barriers built to protect themselves in overcharging the Canadian consumer, as doubtless they will succeed at this time. Indeed, the present day tactics are very similar to those employed fifty-three years ago. They won the support of the press by revenue from advertising. They won the votes of the workers by promising fatter pay envelopes as part of their share in the general hold-up. They won the dairymen by a tariff of eight cents per pound on butter. They won the western fruit farmers by taxing the prairies for them. They won the prairie farmers by promising them local industries. But, Mr. Speaker, the real reason came from the feeling that things could hardly be worse than they were last summer and a change of any kind might be better. Besides, the Prime Minister was full of promises for an immediate deliverance from all their troubles. He pledged himself many times during the campaign to find a job for every Canadian or perish in the attempt. He said a young country like Canada had no right to have unemployment. Why, the present Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) claimed that the unemployment problem could be solved in three days by the return of a Tory government. Well, a Tory government was returned, and $20,000,000 was voted as temporary relief, with the result that unemployment has been almost doubled.
The Address-Mr. Hall
Has the Prime Minister delivered the people from all their troubles as he promised everywhere before the election? No; on the contrary, he has increased them many times. He even raised the tariff walls much higher against the mother country-Canada's one good customer, indeed her best; and after thus refusing to accept her commodities in payment for Canadian products, he bullied her for not preferring our wheat, with the consequent reaction against the Canadian wheat grower, leaving him without a market for his wheat.
The most absurd thing any country can do is to make that which the farmer has to purchase, including his hired help, as dear as possible by means of a tariff, simply for the sake of carrying on an unnatural business at a loss to the country. This is especially so in view of the present condition of the producing industry upon which all the artificial industries have been feeding and will continue to feed. No doubt this will blast or destroy the selling market by excluding all products sent in return, as well as increase the cost of transportation through having only one way cargoes.
Apparently the government has no misgiving in carrying out any atrocity it may desire to perpetrate, feeling as it does that it has a docile and unshakeable majority-a majority obtained, strange to say, with the assistance of one-third of the farmers of Canada. Apparently the government thinks that the jacking up of the tariff is the panacea for Canada's commercial ills as well as the only cure for unemployment. The Prime Minister seems to be bound hand and foot to the manufacturers. This was quite apparent at the farcical inquiry in connection with the proposed tariff changes, where he and some of his colleagues constituted themselves as special pleaders for the privileged interests. I need scarcely say that there was little pretence of openmindedness.
The greedy and privileged classes which were instrumental in putting the Prime Minister into power look upon him as being at their service. As a recognition of their legitimate claims he gave them a hurried but lavish luncheon with the special session of last September. This was to tide them over until dinner-time, which, according to the speech from the throne, is set for this session. It would seem that each claimant got just enough at the special session luncheon to whet his appetite. Why should those who put the caterer into power with a large majority not get what they want? They were promised it, and who should now object? Not the
opposition at any rate, because the Prime Minister has the country's mandate although it may have been obtained by questionable means. Until the people express at the polls a change of mind, they have every right to get what they asked for at the last general elections, namely, high protection and riches for the manufacturers and bondage and poverty for the farmers.
Under such conditions what need is there for a tariff board? Retaining it would be humbug and needless expense, as its findings would be totally ignored; abolishing it would be but brutal frankness and economy under a one man ruler such as the Prime Minister. It is simply for the hungry ones to say how much they want, and who else can say that so well? It is for the caterer to fill the orders with a free hand. He does not have to pay, because that is added to the daily cost of our living. In gorging his masters he is carrying out with all haste the mandate he received from the country on July 28, 1930.
Some time ago the Prime Minister was considering the adjournment of the demands for further protection until the Imperial conference to be held in Ottawa next summer. Few if any of the promises made to gather in the votes have been fulfilled. About the only thing which has been realized is tfie payment of $20,000,000 for the promised temporary relief of unemployment. The Prime Minister seems to be endeavouring to find some way to cover his dire failure. The postponement of action would give him time to fill other orders on the program and allow him to distract the country's mind with such contentious matters as the St. Lawrence waterway. But apparently the privileged classes would agree to no adjournment of action on tariff matters. They saw that their chance was now or never. So once more the Prime Minister has to cater to his masters and we have the proposed increases in the tariff indicated in the speech from the throne. This will give the mother country another slap in the face in forestalling and frustrating the purpose of the coming conference at Ottawa, a similar result to that accomplished at the London conference by the Bennett ultimatum. It is another case of blasting.
It must be remembered that the Prime Minister has a docile majority to which he will be true as well as to himself. He will always be true to the outside privileged classes whom, though the heavens fall, he will feed on the blood of the nation. The alacrity with which the Prime Minister has acted in certain matters since gaining power has given rise to the cry: Give Bennett a chance, he does things.
The Address-Mr. Hall
Since assuming office he has had as free a chance as that given to Mussolini, but what has he done? Permit me to mention some of his achievements.
1. He raised the duties on imports from Great Britain to such an extent as to amount practically to an embargo-in the case of cheap tweeds the increase from 22| per cent to 96 per cent.
2. He has almost doubled unemployment since taking office.
3. He has blocked our trade with New Zealand.
4. He has antagonized the buying public of Great Britain by his "blasting" speeches made in the old country.
5. He has blocked imports and so has decreased exports, reducing our trade to a prewar level.
6. He has increased the cost of transportation by permitting only one-way cargoes.
7. He has lowered the price of farm products from 20 to 40 per cent, but has kept up the manufacturers' prices at former levels.
S. He has decreased the price of farm lands through reducing the price of farm products.
9. He has decreased the industrial production of Canada.
10. He has decreased the revenue of Canada.
[DOT]11. He has lowered the moral tone of the country by promises that might be intended to bribe.
12. He has barred trade with Russia, thus depriving Canadian workmen of considerable employment.
While the Prime Minister has been adopting this course of action, the farmers in the west have been talking secession instead of protesting against the legislation which permits the manufacturer to plunder by not reducing prices commensurate with the prices received for farm products. Evidently the pledges given seem to have pegged the manufacturers' prices, so why not peg the farmers' prices, especially for wheat? If the government has secured profitable prices for the manufacturer at the expense of the people and primarily of the farmer, it is only right that it should secure also fair prices for the farmer. Any subsidy given would have to be paid out of the public treasury, and it must be admitted that that would be very unpalatable to the country, but the nation could take any amount of that sort of medicine if it were mixed up with its food and drink, that is, in the daily cost of living. The Prime Minister should treat all classes alike.
The Prime Minister has the support of a majority in this house in any action he elects
to take, because hon. members opposite were elected for that purpose. The incident of the glass firm at Hamilton is a case in point. At the request of .this firm parliament voted at the special session to increase the duty on window glass to such an extent as would double the cost of glass to the consumer. This would have cost the country over 81,500,000 in order to give work to about 150 men, or over 810,000 per workman. Fortunately for the country this factory did not reopen, the firm simply doubling the price on their imported glass. This brought forth such a protest that the minister, exercising his autocratic power, revoked .the duty and down came the price. So the Bennett government was lauded by its political admirers for having shut down on this bonused firm because it had failed to perform the reopening trick. lit must not be forgotten that this same government was willing to take over $1,500,000 from the country each year in order to keep this glass factory running and employing only 150 men.
As I said before, the first thing this government did was to reward its benefactors or those who had put it into power. This was done at the special session by the jacking up of the tariff on about 170 different articles out of a total of 1,188 items in the Canadian tariff schedule. Then followed an effort, through preferential trade agreements with the other members of the empire, to increase imperial trade and unity. This was undertaken at the Imperial conference at London when the Prime Minister presented bis offer or "ultimatum." In effect he said: The time has come-and it will not brook delay-to decide between Britain sacrificing herseilf to the dominions or losing them. Such was the import of the Prime Minister's speech at the conference, supported, as the report shows,, only in part by the representatives of the other dominions, and apparently by a sweeping election majority in Canada. But this issue was neither before the people of Canada nor before parliament. It had its origin and development in the Prime Minister's brain, of which it is quite characteristic, although it should have been decided by the people at the polls on election day and afterwards approved by parliament. Doubtless the Prime Minister considered these things as useless formalities when he, the Prime Minister, was Canada. '
But as the demand was that Britain should tax her food, thus throttling her commerce and so reversing the policy that had made her famous and prosperous for almost a century, Britain's answer, through Mr. Thomas, to the representatives of the dominions, was that she was still a part of the
The Address-Mr. Desrochers
British Empire and might also be allowed an equal right to say "Britain first," just as the Prime Minister had claimed that his proposals were inspired by the principles of "Canada first"-or, more accurately expressed, the principle of "some Canadians first." I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that these "some" do not include the farmers for whom he professes that his heart is bleeding. His policy is high protection for the manufacturers, especially for the manufacturers of textiles, but the farmers are hurt instead of helped by the heavy duties on everything they have to buy, nor are they ensured any better price for their wheat in Great Britain by the Prime Minister's scheme, as the suggested preference is an increase of only 10 per cent of the duty. This scheme has few of the advantages of empire free trade.
As soon as Britain gives the dominions a worth-while preference, she imperils her food supply and increases the cost of the raw materials for her industries. But more important is the fact that the Prime Minister's proposed scheme would most likely provoke endless jealousy and friction within the empire as well as increase hostility without the empire. Moreover, it is a one-man scheme, the Prime Minister's, endorsed by neither the people nor the parliament of Canada. Consequently, let all lovers of the empire, by whatever names they are known, oppose this scheme with might and main both in and out of parliament, in season and out of season, and thus maintain unity and concord among all parts of the empire as well as the goodwill of all the nations. May all such selfish schemes as this be aborted or perish at birth. As the Prime Minister himself would say: I will cause the abortion or death of any such scheme or perish in the attempt. Indeed, many times during the recent election campaign he made a number of such declarations or promises, but as yet he has refused or at least has failed to carry them out or even to perish. As, however, he is a man of action as well as of many words, it makes one wonder whether these promises were intended only to bribe or to deceive. Let the Prime Minister answer.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY