Mr. T. A. THOMPSON (Lanark):
In rising to resume the debate, I wish at the outset to congratulate the mover (Mr. Gobeil) and the seconder (Mr. Barber) of the address on the splendid speeches they made, reflecting great credit not only upon themselves but also upon the constituencies which they have the honour to represent.
I listened very carefully the other day for over four hours to the speech of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and I was very much disappointed when he was through. During that entire time there was no constructive policy, there was nothing put forward by the right hon. gentleman but fault-finding. He found fault with the present administration, and I began to wonder whether these men sitting on the treasury benches, grown old in the service of their country, were attempting to pull down and ruin the reputation of Canada, or whether after all they did not have some business judgment and there was not something that they had done that could find approval from the leader of the opposition.
The right hon. gentleman made the statement that we had a million on relief and a million and a half unemployed, a statement which is not borne out by the facts. I have received a report from the Deputy Minister of Labour giving the figures for the months of November and December of 1932 and 1933 respectively as to the number of families on
relief, and that I submit is the fairest way of estimating the number of people on relief in this country. A bread-winner is out of work and goes on relief. He may have a wife and family of half a dozen children, but it is not right to suggest that his wife and children should be numbered amongst the unemployed. He is the head of one family, one bread-winner who has gone on relief. I am therefore giving the number of families that have been on relief, which as I say is the fairest way of arriving at an honest conclusion.
In November, 1933, there were 17,783 less families on relief than there were in November, 1932, and in December, 1933, there were 25,679 less families on relief than there were in December, 1932. That shows conclusively that we are to-day in a better and not in a worse condition than we were a year ago. I cannot understand therefore what good purpose is to be served by public men decrying and blackening the reputation of their own country at a time when every loyal citizen is straining every effort to pull the Canadian people out of the morass and entanglement in which they have found themselves.
Yesterday we listened to another speech, this time from the hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart), in which he denounced the tariff policies of this government. He waxed very eloquent and worked himself into a great fever, holding up his hands in holy horror. I thought at the time he was longing for a tambourine or a little tin drum on which to beat the death knell of protection. Whatever it may be, he charged the Prime Minister and the Conservative party with being responsible for all the ills that exist in this country at the present time, and especially did he charge that the policies of the present government were responsible for our unemployment situation. These statements are not borne out by the facts. I claim that the greatest factor in causing unemployment in Canada was the unbusinesslike immigration policy of the Liberal government from 1921 to 1930. During those years they brought in 1,187,319 immigrants against the protests of the provinces in which those people were placed and against the business judgment of our most able Canadians. In the last two years during which they were responsible for immigration, and at a time when our own men were unemployed and when every man who had any insight into our future knew it was a wrong policy, they brought in 331,000 immigrants, of whom 99,000 who came in during the last year were single men who immediately went on relief. Had the former Liberal administration followed the same
The Address-Mr. Thompson (Lanark)
immigration policy that is being pursued by the present government and restricted immigration to the extent we have done there would be no unemployment and no need for relief here to-day.
When the present government took office they found the markets of the world largely closed to the Canadian exporters. France, Germany, Italy, that formerly took millions of bushels of our wheat, had raised their tariffs to a prohibitive height. The United States to which we had sent a large quantity of our produce had from time to time raised their tariffs making it impossible for us to do business with them with any degree of satisfaction. In 1922 the Fordney-McCumber tariff hit the Canadian exporter a serious blow, and this was followed in 1930 by the Hawley-Smoot tariff, making it impossible for the Canadian exporter to do business with the nation to the south of us. The point I would emphasize is that these European and United States markets were lost to the Canadian exporter between 1921 and 1930 when our hon. friends opposite were in power. I do not blame the Liberal government of that day for the tariff policies of foreign countries but I do blame them for taking knock after knock lying down. I blame them for sitting with folded hands while the markets of the world were being closed to Canadian products and allowing the Canadian market to be the dumping ground for the surplus products of every other nation in the world. Further I say that the tariff policy of the present government has kept Canada solvent and that by securing in the British market a substantial preference for the Canadian exporter they have safeguarded the Canadian producer and protected the Canadian farmer from the very worst effects of the present world depression. The imperial trade agreements made at Ottawa and the general policy of the present government have combined to wipe out a heavy adverse trade balance and to replace it with a favourable trade balance of $136,000,000. This has been one of the greatest achievements of the present government. Notwithstanding the fact that economic nationalism has been paralysing international trade, the Canadian exporter found a haven from the general chaos of world trade in a sheltered market of the British Empire where, in the best market in the world for agricultural and other primary products, the present government has secured for him a preference.
There is nothing that affects Canada to a greater extent than the repayment of her foreign debts and her future borrowing in the foreign money market, and judging from our experience in the past I am convinced there should be set up in Canada a board of 74726-10
financial experts to whom all prospective borrowers should be asked to submit their propositions before being permitted to enter the foreign money market. Such a board would safeguard us against excessive, borrowings and protect us from those dangerous terms of repayment that have characterized so many of our loans in the past. The whole economic system of the world is to-day labouring under a nightmare of debt that is paralyzing and demoralizing those who receive the loan as well as those who make it.
We have to the south of us a great nation of 130,000,000 people experimenting with a species of dictatorship, feverishly endeavouring to raise themselves out of the morass of economic and financial entanglements in which they find themselves involved. We wish them well; we trust they will be successful because we realize that the future welfare and prosperity of this dominion is inseparably associated with that of the United States. We are neighbours living close together and what affects the one will always materially affect the other. But while they are strenuously endeavouring to bring about new conditions and a better social life in their country, they seem to forget all about the debt, and I should like to call to their remembrance this fact, that the same prayer which says "Thy kingdom come" says also "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
Our hon. friends opposite during former sessions in the house and on the stump throughout the country have apparently taken great delight in comparing prices of farm produce since 1930 with what they were prior to that date. They seem to forget that no government can control world prices, and that the inexorable law of supply and demand rules the world to-day as it ever did. The only comparison that can be fairly made is between the prices of farm products in Canada and the prices in other countries. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the prices of agricultural products in Canada since 1930 have been higher in comparison with those in other countries than they were during the regime of our hon. friends opposite. Take prices to-day; we have pork selling on the hoof in Montreal and Toronto at 10 cents, while in Chicago it is selling at only 4 cents. The best sign of the recovery from the depression is to be found in the fact that agricultural products are continually rising in price. Canada is essentially an agricultural country, and until the farmers of Canada receive a fair remuneration for their labour and the capital they have invested there will be no real prosperity in this dominion. As a direct re-
The Address-Mr. Thompson (Lanark)
suit of the agreements made by this government, Canada to-day has a wonderful opportunity to supply bacon to the British market. I find that in 1932 Denmark supplied 67 per cent of Great Britain's imported bacon, Poland, 10-02 per cent, Holland, 8-05 per cent, Sweden, 3-77 per cent, Lithuania, 4-52 per cent, Irish Free State, 1-75 per cent, and Canada only 1-6 per cent, the lowest percentage of any country. Under the agreement with Great Britain, Canada is permitted to send into that country 280,000,000 pounds of bacon annually. While we have doubled our exports to the British market we have not yet exceeded 25 per cent of the ' quota that has been allowed us. With pork at the price it is to-day, and still 75 per cent of our quota not taken up, there is a wonderful opportunity for the farmers of this dominion.
In the county of Lanark, which I have the honour to represent, the policies of the former government had driven our manufacturers almost to the wall. Many of our factories were closed down, few of them were running over half time. To-day every textile mill in the county of Lanark is running full time, and several are running day and night. Some of the mills that have been closed for years have been reopened. This is a direct result of the tariff policies of the present administration in restricting imports from foreign countries where the scale of wages and the standard of life is so much below that of Canada that they can afford to undersell us in our own market. The opening of these factories in Lanark county has been of great assistance to the farmers, because when the men and women engaged in industrial life have steady employment, they have purchasing power wherewith to buy the commodities that the farmers produce. Mouths are the farmers' best market.
We hear a great deal about social betterment in this country. We want social betterment, but we want it without socialism and without communism. We must have progress, in a young country like Canada we cannot stand still. Changing conditions must bring new remedies. But I have no sympathy with those organizations which would attempt to build up an economic system in Canada such as they have in Russia, based upon atheism, hatred and repudiation of debt. The danger to our present democracy does not lie in attacks made upon it by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation or similar organizations. The real danger to democracy to-day lies in the apathy of its own defenders, the men on the one hand who claim that our
present day democracy is rooted and grounded in Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights and so cannot be disturbed, and on the other hand those who use the privileges and liberties afforded by democracy to further their own selfish interests without due regard to the interests of their fellowmen. To-day we have agitation to change the whole system, but it gets us nowhere to damn it and to call it a canker on the body politic. The wise statesman must look for the cause of that eruption, and honestly- endeavour to heal it. And in lopping off the dead branches we must be careful not to destroy the living branches or the living part of the tree that has taken ages of the very best that was in humanity to produce.
Just before this house opened there was held in Ottawa a conference of the premiers of the different provinces. While the meetings were held in secret, enough has leaked out to assure the public that several of these premiers were here asking further assistance for their provinces. Now, Mr. Speaker, if these provinces have been unfortunate, if the grasshoppers have eaten them up, if the drought has burnt them out, if the hail and frost have destroyed their harvests, then I say let us come to their assistance, because these are things over which they have no control. But if those provinces insist on electing legislatures that will spend their resources unwisely, that will bonus railways, guarantee wheat pools, enter into social legislation which they cannot afford and which the application of sane business principles would have taught them to avoid, then I say it is out of the question that they can continue any such expenditure and come to Ottawa to have their bills paid.
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH