Any party which repudiates, in its first act of political power, its sacred obligations without attempting to make any kind of arrangement to meet them, is unable to understand this question and should not be entrusted with the settlement of any financial question.
This afternoon we heard the Prime Minister in another of his comprehensive statements on the war situation. May I be allowed to say a few words with reference to our views-I say "our" as representing the people who sent me here. It was with the deepest of emotions that, a few days ago, we heard Mr. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking to the people of France; and a few days later, in quite as eloquent an address from this side of the Atlantic, another able man addressed the French people. He is a representative of those who for over three centuries-since
The Address-Mr. Dechene
1632-have played their part in the development of this country. It was at that time that my ancestors came to Canada, and I think I have some right to say that it was with feelings of pride that I heard this able voice from our side of the Atlantic. Many of us believe that it had a great influence on the decision of the Vichy government.
Some of our sons have already made the supreme sacrifice; already many of them lie at the bottom of the ocean. They have shown what this young and virile nation can accomplish on the sea; for now we have a navy. The other day, walking down the street here, I stopped to see a company of soldiers pass by. What splendid men they were! They came from the farms, from the factories, from industry, from every part of the country, free men who had voluntarily enlisted because they wanted to defend something they held dearer than life. I was never so proud of being a Canadian. I realized then that we were out to do our share, that while the British lion was roaring its defiance on the cliffs of Dover, the cub, almost fully grown, was standing by his side.
We may disagree with regard to the work of this government, although I have not heard one real criticism of the way in which it has conducted the war, but when I return home after the house adjourns for the long recess, I shall be prouder than ever of the support I have given to the King government. I am returning home, too, with the thought that now Alberta has an important representation in the Liberal party. After the last election the strength of the Liberal party in that province was greater than that of any other. After all, Liberalism stands for unity and understanding and now there will be no more of fighting between east and west. I must admit, however, that the fault was our own.
I have known the province of Alberta for a long time; I knew it as a boy. What a lovely country, what a marvellous country to a young fellow! The opportunities seemed to appeal to youth, from its plains and forests, its rivers and mountains. Everything in that vast and rich country appealed to a young man. On one occasion an orator expressed this fancy, that when the beneficent Creator had made the universe, after throwing into space stars and planets and suns, and when He decided on the seventh day to rest, casting a look over His work, with which He declared Himself satisfied, He must at that moment have noticed particularly Alberta with its fecundity of soil, its mountains, its vast lakes, its coal mines, that almost limitless province which now
appeals to the whole nation for a better understanding. We know that we cannot carry on as Albertans; we do not want to, we want to carry on as Canadians.
A few weeks before the grand old chieftain of the Liberal party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, passed to his reward, a group of ten or twelve young men from Alberta visited him. They were students from the university of Alberta and some of our higher schools of education in the west, young men of different languages and different descent representing the typical soul of that province. They came to Ottawa, and before going home they called on that grand old leader of Liberalism just a few days before his death. One of these young men recounted to me his interview with that great man who said to him that day, "I stand speaking to you with a foot already in the tomb." My belief-and I do not fear to express it here; it may sound foolish to some but it does not to me because I believe in something beyond the material things of life-is that when a man has served his people as Sir Wilfrid Laurier and other leaders have served them-I suppose Sir John A. Macdonald had that vision-and has devoted his life, his talents, his soul and the best that is in him to the service of his fellow men, he comes nearer to God. That is democracy, as opposed to any kind of autocracy, whether of a man or of a group.
Such men seem to get a vision of things to come. This young man told me-and he repeated it to me recently-that Laurier foretold exactly what is happening now. He said, "Young men, I am so pleased to see you, to see that you have the training given by our best schools and universities, typically, truly Canadian; that you have been taught the principle that the life that is worth while is founded on sacrifice more than anything else since the great sacrifice." He said, "Before you are of mature age, long before you are as old as I am, you will have lived through such terrible happenings as no one could ever describe. The struggle will be stupendous and terrific." That was more than twenty years ago. He said, "Arm yourselves with this thought, to prepare yourselves for this struggle which will be one for the salvation of humankind."
As we have been told so often, it is a struggle for liberty and freedom. More than that, as the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) said at Toronto, I think, during the adjournment of parliament, it is a struggle for the very soul of things that belong to the inner life of man. The great chief said to these boys, "You are going to see these things; I am too old. I have tried to lead my people, like Moses, at least as
The Address-Mr. O'Neill
far as Mount Nebo where I may see the promised land." Let me express the hope that more than this will be granted to our present leader. Sir Wilfrid said, "Young men, things may look very bad, but do not get discouraged; carry on. Take my word, as a man near the last step; justice and right shall triumph in the end."
Yes, Mr. Speaker, these prophetic words are true to-day; justice and right shall triumph in the end. May I express one wish before I take my seat; I wish that the present leader of the Liberal party, who also has given his life, not to his party but to his country, may not only see the promised land-and not from afar, not in a vision from a mountain top- but after a victory for freedom and democracy may lead his people into the promised land and to better days.
Mr. T. J. O'NEILL (Kamloops): The
mover and the seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne have received well merited praise; may I, however, add my congratulations upon their able speeches?
This debate has been carried on now for about three weeks, and we have listened to some excellent speeches from all sections of the house representing all shades of political opinion, to most of which addresses I listened with interest if not at all times with approval. I feel safe in saying that last fall when we received the news that parliament was to be reconvened on November 5 for the express purpose of formal prorogation and that the next session would be held some time in January, the majority of hon. members in western Canada received that news with approval. Later we were told that this programme had to be abandoned; that we would be convened on November 5 and should come prepared to stay; that the opposition were to ask certain questions and for information for which the vast majority of the public were supposed to be clamouring and that at the same time the government would take the opportunity to give an account of their stewardship.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of the people of Canada at the time of the election were quite satisfied with the Mackenzie King administration, and I am of opinion that they have not changed their mind since then; they are still clearly of opinion that the Mackenzie King government could not be improved on very much at the present time, at least from those now seated in this house.
We have heard from some quarters quite a clamour for a national government and a good deal about leadership and about this
being a Liberal war. Such statements and accusations emanating from this house do not help to unite the people of this country. As far as national government is concerned I cannot agree that this is not a national government. With respect to leadership, Canada is very fortunate at the present time, and so is the Liberal party, in having such a leader as the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). There is no parallel to such leadership as his in the British commonwealth of nations to-day. No man has held the leadership of his party longer than our Prime Minister has in Canada. And I can assure hon. members that at times it is a difficult job to hold the leadership of that party.
The other night the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) made an excellent address to which I listened with keen attention. But he made one remark with which I cannot agree. He said that this house should sit almost constantly while the country is at war. I do not agree with that view so long as the government follow the present policy of depending for advice upon a number of high salaried executives recruited from the ranks of industry. In many instances these industrial leaders are not sympathetic to Liberal policies, and some of them are unfriendly and unsympathetic toward the labour class. England has found it a great advantage to take labour men into the cabinet, even though they held different political views, because they understood the viewpoint of the labouring classes, and it helped to give confidence to the labour people if they thought they were well represented in the government. I think it is high -time the government of Canada gave more consideration to the views of labour and the farmers.
At this point I should like to congratulate the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) upon the restrictions he is imposing on luxuries and non-essentials of war. Much has been said about equality of service and of sacrifice. The restrictions introduced to-day probably will bring about some of that equality of sacrifice, but I believe we are using the wrong yardstick when we measure that equality. I maintain that equality of sacrifice must not and cannot be measured by the amount of money you take away from a man by means of taxation. It should be measured by how much you have left him when you are through taxing him. That is the yardstick you must use if you are going to have equality.
This brings me to suggest once more to the government the advisability of relieving low paid workers from payment of the national defence tax. I refer particularly to those people who are receiving less than $750 and $1,500 annually, for single and married people
The Address-Mr. O'Neill
respectively. An increasing number of people are asking, who are the financial advisers of the government? Many people consider that salaries far too high are being paid for the belt-tightening advice these financial experts give, especially to people who have had to tighten their belts to the last notch during the past ten years. I have in mind now the farmers and the unemployed. Many reasons have been advanced for the lack of interest and enthusiasm in the last war loan, but it seems to me that very few of those who have dealt with that question have even touched on the real reason why the last loan was not received as enthusiastically as it Should have been. At this time I think the government might well pay heed to the repeated warnings that an overhauling of our monetary system is long overdue.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY