Mr. ARTHUR LUCIEN BEAUBIEN (Provencher) (Translation) :
Allow me, Mr. Speaker, at the outset to join with those who have preceded me in this debate and no doubt with others from all parts of Canada in offering you my congratulations on your election to the post of First Commoner. Being a new member, I have not had like many other previous speakers, the advantage of personally appreciating the interest and zeal you have shown in the study of the questions submitted to this House, and bearing on the administration of the affairs of Canada. Your zeal seconded by a great love of your country, by eminent qualities, by serious studies of problems to be solved both in and out of this Dominion and by a long parliamentary experience had prominently placed you in the foremost rank of this House. It therefore was no surprise to anyone to hear the Prime Minister forecast your election to the exalted post you now so gracefully occupy. I wish to compliment the mover of the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne and also the one who so
eloquently and cleverly seconded the motion. If we may judge from their debut, we may certainly foretell that these two gentlemen will render valuable service to Parliament and, as a proof of my sincerity in congratulating them, I express the hope that from this new generation will rise a great number of men endowed with the same eloquence and talents, who will spread from ocean to ocean what we believe to be a sound doctrine, the policy of the Progressive party. The Speech from the Throne referred to many aspects of this policy. The most important of which touched on the price of farm products. The foundation of happiness and prosperity in this country is interwoven with the happiness and prosperity of the farming class. It is through the strenuous efforts of the farmer that the products which sustain industry and commerce are brought forth from the land. If the supply from this source decreases we are confronted with industrial depression and the calamities of unemployment mentioned in the Speech from the Throne follow; business is at a standstill, financial institutions are anxious and tottering, and misery-ill adviser-visits many homes, uneasiness is felt everywhere, the world is upset, the whole social structure menaced with destruction totter at the very bottom of its foundation. The Progressive party is well suited for the hour. It is here to ask the Government to ameliorate by well adapted laws the most unfortunate lot of the farmer and thereby strengthen the foundation on which rests all social classes.
The Speech from the Throne seems to presage that laws will be enacted with that aim in view. Those whose object is to reduce the cost of transportation, the lowering of the tariff which will help in cutting down the cost of production, the expansion of our commerce, a greater outlet for our products, the establishment of a commission for the purchase of wheat, the removal of a great number of unnecessary middlemen between the producer and the consumer, the immigration of bona-fide settlers who will help to increase the production of our country, more facilities in obtaining farm-hands, all these measures will receive our hearty approval, because they will become a powerful lever, from the bottom upwards towards raising to a state of happiness all social classes.
The Progressive party is not selfish and does not restrict its work to ensuring prosperity of the farmer alone, exclusive of
all others. If it asks a greater measure of justice for the farming class, the reason is that on its welfare depends the welfare of others. One might be led to believe that the farmer is not so badly off as he says, that he is dealt with justice and that he has no more to put up with than others. Let us examine his condition. At dawn of day, and even sometimes before, he is to be found at work and his labours never cease until long after sunset. Where is to be found the labourers who would accept sixteen hours of work a day? No complaint would ever come from the farmer if he could obtain like his fellow-citizens of other classes a dependable return for each hour's work. But for the last two years the farmer's revenue does not suffice to cover his expenses, and he knows that if his hard labour does not receive a just compensation, it is because too many middlemen speculators or profiteers want to reap a portion of the results of his strenuous work, either through the sale of the implements he needs for farming or through the handling of his products before they reach the consumer. All we ask for the farmers, is a just remuneration for their work.
The Speech from the Throne contains a reference to our national railway system in terms rather vague and indefinite. For many years past, the Government has registered a considerable deficit on these railways and we are somewhat astonished to learn that after years of experiment by the late government and of study and criticism on the part of the Opposition at that time, which has now assumed power, no solution has so far been found to remedy this state of things.
According to the Speech from the Throne we must have a through inquiry. It is time to act and we therefore expected to hear in that speech a well defined policy.
The Progressive party's programme is very clear on that point and is in striking contrast with that of the Government. We want state ownership of railways as it is carried on in the best organized states of the old continent. Thus allowing the profits, which will eventually be realized from these railways, to become a source of revenue not to the wealthy shareholders but to the people. I do not wish to close these brief remarks without proclaiming myself with pride a follower of the leader of the Progressive party. No one has made a deeper study of our economic conditions and no one desires more the happiness and prosperity of all parts of the
country. There is no greater patriot nor one more worthy of the people's confidence. The day is not very remote when this confidence will spread from coast to coast and will result in a victory which will assure national prosperity.
Mr. EDOUARD CHARLES St. PERE (Hochelaga) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, before going into the subject of the few remarks which I intend to make in reference to the Speech from the Throne, let me first congratulate you upon your election to the speakership of the House of Commons. You presided over my first political effort and, by a happy coincidence, you preside to-day on the occasion of my first attempt in this House, to take part, the best I can in the patriotic debates of the Canadian Parliament.
I do not wish to go any further without first extending my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the address in answer to the Speech from the Throne.
I must add, using an old stereotyped phrase dear to our profession, that they have proved once more, "Qu 'aux ames bien nees la valeur n'attend pas le nombre des annees."
Mr. Speaker, it would be to depart now from our French tradition of politeness, if I forgot to offer our colleague from Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail) my most sincere congratulations upon her election to this House.
I have followed closely the different speeches which were made upon the address and I believe, contrary to the claim of a number of our friends on the Opposition benches, that the Speech from the Throne comprised on the whole very important questions which necessitate' the immediate consideration of this House. The Government admits that Canada has successfully passed through the economic crisis which the war forced upon us, and notwithstanding what our opponents may still say, I shall repeat with the hon. Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin) that it is since the advent of the Liberal party to power, that the Canadian people have recovered hope and see that a sound administration has succeeded to one but too oblivious of the public welfare.
Mr. Speaker, the tariff is one of the questions which has a foremost interest in this House. It was much debated during the course of the last electoral campaign and since it is made a primordial question, as member for Hochelaga-even though I am at present but a novice in politics
in duty bound to pause a moment, without however entering into all the details of this important subject. Our friends on the Opposition benches seemed to lay stress on the fact that the present Government had not adopted, or rather was not adopting a definite policy on the tariff, so far as conveyed by the Speech from the Throne. In reading over attentively the speeches made by these gentlemen in the course of the last few years, I have yet to find, amongst the governments that have preceded the present one, a Prime Minister who, with regard to this question of tariff or on many other questions had adopted a definite policy. It is, according to my humble opinion, an economic principle that a country must adapt its tariff policy to the modalities of the policy followed by its neighbours and in a more generalized form to that adopted by the great world powers. Briefly, I believe that on this tariff question as well as on many others, we must be up-to-date and that we must not entirely refer to the past to adopt a policy on the subject. Times change and it is by a careful revision well calculated to fit in broadly with the needs of our Dominion that we must consider this question. Personally, being of French Canadian extraction, I am first of all a Canadian and it is my opinion that, in its widest accepted sense, the Canadian must not be provincial but must be first and above all Canadian. From the beginning of this debate, Mr. Speaker, we have also been witnessing a discussion on immigration. The latter is deemed in certain spheres absolutely necessary to the prosperity of the Western provinces, a means to draw greater returns for our railway system; on the whole, according to some, it would be the remedy which would set on a firm basis our country's economic system. Our Western friends seem to insist that it should be recruited mainly in the farming class. That is a very good suggestion; however, on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, it would be difficult to limit immigration to that class only, seeing that Canada must be and, I believe, is a land of freedom to which all classes of people, I mean the good classes-and I especially lay stress, Mr. Speaker, on the word "good1"-must have access. But I shall here make a distinction. If we must open wide the doors of our country, let this immigration be selective at the port of emigration so that the refuse of old Europe be not dumped upon our shores. I feel morally convinced that it will be [Mr. St. Pfere.J
absolutely necessary that this immigration be not too great so as to avoid, in times of economic depression such as we are experiencing, that the problem of unemployment do not become more difficult through over population.
At six o'clock the House took recess.
The House resumed at eight o'clock.
Mr. Speaker, when the House rose at six o'clock I was discussing the question of unemployment which was so prominently brought forward all over the country in the course of the last electoral campaign. To-day it outlines itself again under a very keen aspect. I am not in the habit of playing to the gallery, however, belonging to that great political party which has always been the party of the masses, the one which has always so strongly proclaimed "miseror super turbam". I therefore deem it my duty to ask this House to take a special interest on this question. I am the representative of an electoral division made up on the whole of seven eighths of artisans and I feel that these people have given convincing and sufficient proof of their attachment to the Liberal cause and of their approval of its policy by electing your humble servant by a majority of 17,000 votes at the last general election. I therefore request that relief be sought as soon as possible for this abnormal condition and I have no fear of contradiction in stating in this House that the Liberal party was the first to take up that question; the hon. Leader of the Government has given proof of his solicitude when he proposed to the different municipalities and provincial governments of Canada to help them in relieving unemployment by offering to contribute effectively in the furtherance of public enterprises. The Canadian artisan does not cater to that class of writers on political economy who believe that the State should provide for him. He does not wish to beg officially from any one; however he demands that the government concede, through just and most effective legislation, the facilities of earning his daily bread and that of his family, moreover the means of giving to his children that intellectual food so indispensable, to-day, to the prosperity of nations: education.
I therefore believe and I have reason to hope that this Government will even go
further than the programme which it has already prepared towards relieving unemployment.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the question to be considered and I will venture to say the one most to the fore is that which relates to our railways. Some are partisans of private ownership of our system of railways, others demand State ownership. Opinions are well divided on the subject.
I do not pretend to be at my age-and I am comparatively young-an expert on matters of railway management, but I represent in the city of Montreal an electoral division consisting of a great number of employees of our railway system, and at the risk of displeasing a number of our friends on the other side of the House, I feel that I am in a position to state that a number of these employees have admitted to me in their typical way that the present managers of the Government railways "were not railroad men".
The present Government has decided to give a fair trial to the public ownership of railways. Many in this House have spoken of co-ordination. Mr. Speaker, since so much is said in favour of co-ordination, it will not be considered an evidence of jingoism on my part to take up the matter. May I suggest in behalf of my constituents, in behalf of the French-Canadian people of the county of Hochelaga, that, when this co-ordination, this re-organization is being done, it be required from the employees of these national railways, at any rate from those who are supposed to serve the people in my province, that they be perfectly conversant with the two languages recognized as the official languages of this country. There exists at present an evident and well known fact, and that is, our national railways have large annual deficits which have to be met out of the public Treasury. This is a well known thing, and I hope that, thanks to the excellent method to be adopted by the Government in its re-organization of this system, Canada may soon know that not only are our national railway systems well re-organized internally, but that they will soon prove profitable to the country.
Much has been said in this House about redistribution. If I only wished to be selfish on this subject, I should immediately declare myself in favour of this project so much insisted upon but, should the Government ever think it advisable to redistribute the different counties in Canada, I should ask them, before they do so, to render justice to certain parts in my province where the census was not properly taken
under the last administration. And this I would ask not only for my own province, but with the breadth of view which shall always be my aim, I am ready to endorse any such request, whatever may be the district it comes from.
A reduction of railway rates has also been discussed. In the United States as well as in Canada, economists, business men, financiers, all agree on the subject. On this point again I feel confident that, owing to the present Prime Minister being a student in economics, this question will be solved to the entire satisfaction of our national interests.
Mr. Speaker, our kind friends of the Progressive party have stated their demands at length. They insist principally on the reestablishment of the Wheat Board. The people of the province of Quebec, which is composed largely of agriculturists, is of course, greatly interested in these demands;
I shall therefore request the devoted followers of the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) to throw more light on the nature of this Board, why they want it to be restored as soon as possible. What ever may be said, the province of Quebec is anxious for knowledge, and I may affirm, without boast-nig, that the people of this province are well educated and take great interest in all important public matters. I therefore ask our kind friends of the Progressive party, and I do not doubt that they will be eagerly listened to by all who, on this side of the House, are not posted as to the activities and the importance of this institution for which they clamour so persistently.
Mr. Speaker, you undoubtedly expect that I should express, my various impressions now that I have been sitting in this House for a few days, I must first admit that I have been deeply moved by all the imposing ceremonial of the opening of Parliament; I saw such a display of brilliancy that I have been wondering if we were truly a colony and did deserve to be called a Dominion.
Our country, have we said and repeated, must practise a sound political economy. I have been told that expenses have already been reduced in the Militia Department. I must admit, Mr. Speaker, that I rejoice at the news; not that I condemn all military expenditure; but, being a journalist, upon perusal of the " Canadian Almanack ", it struck me that too many brigadier-generals are receiving salaries from seven to nine thousand dollars annually, while our labourers are on the brink of starvation.
Mr. Speaker, it has been said, and I think that this afternoon, the hon. member for
Port William and Rainy River (Mr Manion) gave us to understand that the present Government had done very little to remedy the present abnormal business situation in which the country has been left by the preceding Government. I agree with him to a certain extent, but think he should make a distinction.
The present Government somehow resembles the medical man who is suddenly summoned following a drowning accident. The country had been left in such a pitiful condition by our friends of the Opposition that, whatever the medical science of the Liberal party, the latter have been endeavouring, since the elections, to practise arti-fiicial respiration on this half-suffocated administration. The country, I am sure, will learn with pleasure that the present doctor reports progress.
Mr. Speaker, I have noticed something else in the House of Commons. I have spent the greater part of my ife amongst English-speaking friends, and I should never have expected that so many in this House would rise and claim peace, good will and harmony between races; I had thought that it was a well understood fact, and I may truly say that in my native province, I do not know and have never known any ill-feeling, any misunderstanding between the races. It is to be hoped that, for the general welfare of the country, the wish expressed by our friends of the Opposition and of the Progressive party will be realized; it is to be hoped, in the interest of the country at large, that there will be no personal, no racial question, because matters of vital interest will be at stake. The hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River told us this afternoon that his children speak French. I must tell him that, in my own province children of Frenchspeaking parents speak English as well as French; in several of our schools, children are taught to sing in English "The Maple Leaf forever".
In concluding, I repeat it is most desirable that the wish for a better understanding uttered on all sides should materialize. Let us not only preach, but also practise the fine maxims which our friends have given expression to in this connection; and, since we now belong to the League of Nations, let us first practise at home the virtues of charity, of good cheer and helpfulness. Then our representatives at the League of Nations, Mr. Speaker, will be in a position to preach the brotherhood of nations.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPDY