William Rees BROCK

BROCK, William Rees

Personal Data

Party
Conservative (1867-1942)
Constituency
Toronto Centre (Ontario)
Birth Date
February 14, 1836
Deceased Date
November 1, 1917
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Rees_Brock
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=94be4e10-39c3-40c5-a2fd-66bb4c8d2ae3&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
businessman

Parliamentary Career

November 7, 1900 - September 29, 1904
CON
  Toronto Centre (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 117 of 118)


March 21, 1901

Mr. BROCK.

Certainly.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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March 21, 1901

Hr. BROCK.

A continuation of the old tariff.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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March 21, 1901

Mr. BROCK.

Yes, you found it very cold This House knows very well that the Minister of Trade and Commerce has felt very sore at the action of the manufacturers of this country. We have his own express words, and he cannot get rid of them, that he would get back at the manufacturers, that he would do away with every vestige of protection. Is that not getting back at the manufacturers of this country ? The right hon. Prime Minister, in his address the other day, spoke of the manufacturers who were invading this House and this city as tariff tinkers. Well, Sir. I contend that this country should be governed on business principles ; and if it becomes necessary to deal with the tariff in the interest of the country, the tariff should be tinkered with. When gentlemen representing millions of capital and hundreds of thousands of people, come here and explain to the Minister of Finance how their industries are being injured, and when he has letters from the leading bankers of the country supporting their cause, the hon. minister passes them all by with a wave of his hand and sends them back home. I can assure this House that there is a very critical state of affairs in the manufacturing industries of this country. You know what credit means : you know that it requires money to carry on almost any business : and there is no class of business people who require more capital

than the manufacturers of woollen, cotton and other goods.

Once the banks and the financial institutions lose confidence in them, these industries are injured to a greater extent than can be repaired by any tinkering with our tariff. There is surely some way out of the difficulty, hon. gentlemen will say, for I think even the Finance Minister will acknowledge that there is a difficulty. I think these hon. gentlemen have acknowledged that there is at any rate some measure of injustice, and I suppose they would ask a practical man what is the way out of the difficulty. There are several ways out of it. The worst way is to shut up the factories, but it is far better to have a factory shut than to run it at a loss. Another way would be to run the factories on half time, but everybody knows what it means to run on half time a factory fully equipped with machinery. If we cannot compete with the manufacturers of Yorkshire now, we could not compete with them if we adopt that course. There is another way and that is the one which will have to be taken. To begin with, we will have to reduce the wages of every employee, at any rate one-third. There is no escape from that. I have been in communication with some of the keenest manufacturers, some of whom, I am sorry to say, have been, for the last eighteen years, strong supporters of hon. gentlemen opposite. I do not know exactly where their political sympathies may be now, but when asked why they supported this government, they replied that it was because the party opposite promised them a market of 70,000,000 people. It was because they were promised unrestricted reciprocity. Support us, said these hon. gentlemen opposite, and you need not care so much for your Canadian market, as we will open to you a market of 70,000,000 people. Therefore many honest Reformers supported the government on this consideration. But I was saying that we will have to reduce the wages of our workingmen, and that is something which a really first-class workingman will not put up with. Botchers may, but first-class workers will not allow their wages to be reduced, and will go to the neighbouring republic, which enjoys the highest protection in the world, and holds out the largest ipducements to workingmen. And I say that this government, in adopting the brutal measure they have, are driving these men out of the country, ruining thousands of manufacturers, and bringing desolation to many homes. I want you to understand, Sir, that in all the factory centres of the country, the leading men have their cottages and houses quite close to the factories. Take the town of Waterloo, there the workingmen have their houses in the town, some partly and some altogether paid for, and they are thus tied to the locality. These men will have to suffer considerably if forced to sell their

property, because in most cases these properties will be absolutely unsaleable. You know what a closed factory means. Take one of these factories that is mortgaged to the extent of one-half its value, should that factory be closed the mortgagee could not realize the amount of his hypothec if he were to sell it.

No one who knows me for the last quarter of a century will say that I am inclined to be pessimistic. My ambition has always been to hold up the best interests of Canada. In all my business I have endeavoured to assent the Interests of Canada in preference to those of any other country, and it is very poor encouragement to those who are trying to build up our manufacturing interests to find the government adopting a policy calculated to nullify all their efforts. What we are trying to do is to make Canada, not a cheap, but a good country to live in. Before 1896, hon. gentlemen on the other side preached the doctrine in every corner of the land that the duty of the government was to make this a cheap country to live in. Well, Mr. Speaker, prosperous countries are not cheap countries to live in. Just as soon as Germany became prosperous, living in it became more expensive, but you could not induce any German to go back to twenty-five years ago when that country was a cheap one to Live in.

I -cannot understand how any one representing a manufacturing constituency, or in fact auy constituency, can justify himself in giving his support to the gentlemen on the other side, if h-e is really a Canadian at heart. The preference which the right hon. leader of this House has given to England in the markets of this country is no preference to Great Britain or the British Empire-it is no Imperial preference at all. As my hon. friend from East York has pointed out, are we not a part of the empire. Why, then, should we give the manufacturers in Yorkshire an advantage over the manufacturers in this country, and it is seriously to the detriment of manufacturers in this country that this preference is given. But it is not only a preference to the Yorkshire manufacturers. I know of cases where hundreds of pieces of goods have been brought into Yorkshire from Germany, partly manufactured. They were then run through a machine, weighted up a few ounces to the yard, finished and sent out to this country, and 75 per cent of the preference went to Germany. In many cases German manufacturers at present are sending many fancy goods to London, Eng., with a small machine -to do a little finishing, after which they are sent out to Canada as British manufactures. It is impossible to get at all the details of the ways in which this thing is being done, but the door is wide open for that sort of practice. I know of one case where a large quantity of granite supposed to have come from Aberdeen, really came from Norway, and was then Mr. BROCK.

sent to Aberdeen, where a little work was done on it, after which it was exported to this country to the detriment of the granite industry of New Brunswick and the eastern townships of the province of Quebec. That is another industry which is being injured, and in which the establishments in many cases will have to be closed and a number of workingmen discharged. And all this is due to this preference for which hon. gentlemen opposite take so much credit.

These hon. gentlemen throw across the House the rather cheva-p question : Why do you not move a vote of want of confidence? Why do you not move to cancel the preference ? Well, if my individual opinion is asked, I would assuredly, inasmuch- as I think it is an injury, consider It my duty to do away with it. You will not get any cheap popularity through Ontario by preaching that you are giving a great preference to England. In Ontario, the people who read and who have made what money they have by hard work and industry, will understand the pettiness of that pretended preference.

The difference, to my mind, between the two sides of this House-for there are really but two panties in this country, and I think everybody who wants to have any influence should belong to either one or the other-the difference seems to be that the Liberal members of this House say that our tariff at present is only a revenue tariff. The Finance Minister knows that that is not the case. If it be only a revenue tariff, why raise millions of revenue over your expenditure ? If these hon. gentlemen are free traders, why do they not practice free trade ? I know that they found great fault with the Conservative government some years ago for having given to every one in Canada a free breakfast table. You may call them free traders in that ; but the Conservative party had consideration for the people, for the manufacturer, for every industry in this country-most of all had they consideration for the farmers of this country. We hear a good deal of the differences of opinion amongst the lumbermen here, and I think that the Finance Minister has had his hands full arguing with all those different people who have come to see him and give him reasons why he should give them a preference tariff. I think the reason for the Finance Minister's position is that hon. gentlemen opposite, after years of inconsistency, are endeavouring now, if possible, at the expense of the manufacturers-as my hon. friend from East York (Mr. Maclean) says, making a scapegoat of the manufacturers-to cover themselves with a mantle of consistency. Exit it is too late ; they are too well known. When the history of the last ten or fifteen years comes to be written, and the people judge dispassionately between the parties, I would rather sit on this side of the House for twenty-five years than to

take the place of lion, gentlemen opposite with their record. I would not like to hand down to my successors a reputation for making promises in order to get into power and neglecting to carry them out after attaining power ; a reputation for having advocated any number of principles and discarded every one of them. I say here, as a business man, that these hon. gentlemen sit on the Treasury benches without one particle of principle, except that principle of opportunism, which is the meanest kind of principle.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I had no intention of taking up the time of the House except to put before the House, as I have said, my views as a business man ; views, that, I believe, are entertained by many business men whose sympathies in other respects, are with hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House. I believe that these hon. gentlemen are going to find a great deal of difficulty in explaining their opposition to the amendment resolutions now before the House, for many of them have supported these principles not only privately but publicly for the last twenty years. But we. know what politics are, we know the influence that is brought to bear when men come to this House. I can respect a man who comes here stating: I have been a supporter of the national policy as it was; I shall be a supporter of the national policy as it is. In taking that position, a man will have the respect of his own constituents, even if he has been elected as a Reformer.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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March 21, 1901

Mr. BROCK.

Will the hon. gentleman (Mr. Heyd) just consider the matter for a moment ? I have contended that the best market in any country, not only in Canada, a country, of immense extent, but even in a section of a country-is the market immediately at one's own doors. If we have fair competition to deal with, the Canadian manufacturers are not afraid of it. Put us on a level with the British manufacturers. The class of people they employ is different from ours, and the wages are about half what we pay. They have other great advantages. Take, for instance, the article of coal-they get coal more cheaply than we can get it, which is most important considering the great

quantity that a factory uses. and. owing to the coldness of our climate we require more than they do. The manufacturers in

Yorkshire-and any one who has lived there knows that I am stating the case accurate-59

ly- pays for his money very seldom more than 2i per cent-they get it at even less than the bank rate. I am happy to say that the paper of the merchants of this country is so good that the manufacturers can take it to London and have it discounted at one per cent below the market rate. Take the manufacturer here, particularly if he is hard up and wants the money, what will money cost him ? I suppose that the cheapest he can get it will be 8 per cent. If he does not want it very badly, I suppose he can get it a little cheaper. So, you will see that in advocating the case of the manufacturers I am doing it upon grounds of absolute justice apart from politics. And I do appeal to the Minister of Finance, who, according to the feeling throughout the country is himself the chief stumbling-block in the way. I do not know whether it is parliamentary to make an assertion of that kind, but that is the situation. The look on the hon. gentleman's face when he turned to this side of the House and said there would be no change in the duties, made me feel that he was the power in the cabinet that fought against the poor manufacturers. I would appeal to him to remember that they are Canadians and his fellow-countrymen, that he should represent them here and in every way endeavour to prevent injury coming to them. Even yet it may not be too late, even yet he may give us some measure of relief ; and I think I may appeal to him, not as from this side of the House, because the strongest appeal comes from hon. gentlemen on the other side-to forget his free trade theories for a time and practice a little of that protection which the leader of the opposition has put into these resolutions.

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March 21, 1901

Mr. BROCK.

Great Britain bonuses steamship companies to help the postal system and the commercial interests of tins country. In speaking of an alliance with the Conservative party-because that is involved in the resolution which is before

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