Mr. JOSEPH THAUVETTE (Vaudreuil-Soulanges):
Mr. Speaker, as a new member of the house I should like to have been able to address the house in the language of the majority of its members. As this is the first occasion, however, upon which I have spoken, I think it is my duty to speak in the langugage with which I am most familiar.
(Translation) Mr. Speaker, before broaching the subject matter of this debate, allow me in my turn to congratulate you on the exalted post you occupy in this house. The dignity and great deference with which you acquit yourself of important functions makes it an agreeable task for me to state that you are worthy of our highest consideration.
I also wish to equally congratulate you on the willingness shown in reading the documents of the house and the prayers in French. I must acknowledge that I was deeply moved by this act of deference on your part. We pray with more fervor and we believe ourselves in closer touch with Divine Providence when we pray in our mother tongue.
May I, sir, offer my thanks to my constituents of Vaudireuil-Soulanges for the mark of confidence reposed in me and which affords me the opportunity, to-day, of taking part in the debates of the house. Realizing my responsibilities towards them, I shall be guided by their interests in all my actions as representative of the people. In the last Parliament the constituency of Vaudreuil-Soulanges was represented by a man whose memory, to his own county, is imperishable. No one in need, in the county, was ever left without help, orphans were specially the object of his zeal; the educational institutions both of his county and the diocese of Valleyfield were the recipients of subscriptions which contributed considerably to enlarging their respective establishments and giving an educa-
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tion on easy terms to a greater number of young men, sons of workers or farmers.
I shall not add more for fear of wounding his averseness to publicity. On behalf of his fellow-citizens-my constituents of to-day-I offer my best wishes of better health, longevity and happiness among his own people to the Hon. Lawrence Wilson, a former member of the house, and now the representative of the division of Rigaud in the Senate. Yes, a long life and happiness among his own people so that he may carry on his good work so noteworthy and appreciated in these times of general distress. It is well to remind all those on whom fortune smiles of the lofty deeds of this great philantropist, this eminent financier, who remembers his humble beginning and lavishes part of his wealth on the people with whom he has mingled, and this for the common cause. What a fine achievement sir, when it is done at a time when the people seem to harbour in their souls feelings which, grouped together, are known under various names, but which may give rise to anxious moments for those who are in a position to help, yet do not follow the example of my predecessor in this house.
Allow me now, sir, to refer to other matters. By virtue of the privilege which the rules of the house confer upon me, I deem it my duty to express the feelings of regret and deception which are manifested by the citizens of Canada, especially those who are on the farm. I still recall the charges made by the Conservative candidate, my opponent, against the King government which he stated was responsible for the depression felt in Canada. Tears were in his eyes when he told the farmers of my county that the cause of all their trouble was the New Zealand treaty. He announced the coming of a famous doctor who held the secret of a panacea to all their ills. He contended that with a dose of this serum, unemployment would vanish in three days; that factories would spring up all over Canada; that agriculture would find new markets abroad, because this remedy possessed sufficient explosive power to blast an avenue through which would flow all the surplus of farm products, especially the western wheat. What was the result of this policy from July last to this day? Let us study this policy and its results with reference to the interests of the farming class-that part which interests almost all my constituents. From the very first day of the session-supposed to be an emergency one-in September last, we recognized the dangers of this policy of protection and its prejudicial results to the farming class. I was somewhat disappointed at the various changes which the government made
to the tariff at that session, without giving the house the opportunity of seriously studying the effects of these changes. For instance, out of 28 items referring to agriculture, 14 only are of a nature to benefit the farming class.
It is inconceivable that the present government has not better understood the sad plight in which are placed the farmers. It is nevertheless the labouring class which is most vulnerable to the uncertainty of success, exposed as they are to the sudden changes of weather, over which they have no control. I have listened to numerous speeches from both sides of the house, and I am sorry to say that all agree that agriculture is threatened at its very foundation. I am especially grieved at this unfortunate state of things, because I live among those toilers of the land and I know their joys and sorrows. I have heard the sad complaints of the western farmers. It seems to me, however, that our people are as much to be pitied. It is true that farming in the west is carried out on a larger scale, the farms are vast, while with us their areas are but 60 to 80 acres, and, generally, have been handed down from generation to generation and have become, so to speak, an inheritance which must be kept up at all cost. Alienation is considered almost equivalent to a sacrilege; it is therefore pitiful to hear the crier, on Sunday after mass, in our old Canadian villages, announce to the local people the stipulations governing the public sale of a farm and its equipment Within the last few months these public sale notices have increased to an alarming degree.
The reason for these mishaps and farm desertions, sir, can be traced to the negligence of the present government in not giving sufficient encouragement and hope to the farming class. Quite the opposite, the first act of the government, at the special session in September, resulted in increasing the amount of capital required to operate the farms, by levying duties of 25 to 35 per cent on farm implements, when the sale price of their products had decreased from 50 to 100 per cent. I could quote a number of magazines and newspapers which have collected statistics establishing the truth of this statement.
I shall, however, compare the prices of certain agricultural products in my county for the years 1929 and 1930, they are the retail prices.
In December, 1929, butter sold at 40 cents per pound; in December, 1930, 30 cents. Oats, sold at 1 to H cents per pound in 1929; they sold for J of a cent in 1930. Potatoes sold at $1.25 per bag in 1929; in 1930, the
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price was 75 cents. Yet the New Zealand treaty had been abolished in December, 1930, and the King government was no longer in power. Hay is sold at present $7 to $9 per ton in my county, and there is hardly no market for it. Do you suppose that it is encouraging for the farmer to raise hay when he is obliged to pay $3 for the pressing and transport of a ton of hay to the nearest railway station, when he receives but $7 to $9 per ton. This is the exact situation of the farmer and I think that it is the same in almost all counties of our province.
We quite realized, sir, that a Tory government was at the helm of the affairs of this country when we listened to the budget speech for the year 1931-32, by the right hon. Minister of Finance. This statement of increased taxation on almost all articles which are necessary to sustain life, especially among the working and farming classes confirm our fears.
I recall the request made by the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) to the right hon. Prime Minister, at the short session, known as an emergency session, last autumn, in which he asked him not to adopt tariff changes without allowing us sufficient time to duly consider them; the Prime Minister promised at the time that these tariff changes would be discussed at the first regular session. However, I have searched through all the speech of the Minister of Finance on the budget and nowhere do I find a single tariff item which was changed at the September session. What has become of the Prime Minister's promise? It has had the fate of all the others.
In going over the list of the tariff items Which were changed last autumn, I note that they all favour the manufacturers and that an increased duty on farm implements was not forgotten. As a result of this protection, farm implements have not been made any cheaper while the prices of all farm products have dropped 100 per cent since then. Let me quote a few examples as regards dairy products. The following prices were obtained by one of my fellow-citizens, a farmer of Vaudreuil who deals with the milk distributors of Montreal: 3,112 pounds of milk sold in December, 1920, to J. J. Joubert & Co. of Montreal brought in a net profit to this farmer of $102.88. In December, 1930, when Mr. Bennett was in office and the New Zealand treaty had passed out of existence, 3,890 pounds of milk brought in $91.74. In May, 1931, 5,204 pounds of milk gave a return of $66.31. And this milk was sold to distributors. However, most of my fellow-citizens
are unable to bring their milk to Montreal, and they must sell it to the butter factories. This milk, at present, sells in my county for 4 cents a gallon or 40 cents per 100 pounds. This means, that a farmer wishing to send a letter by mail, enclosing his cheque to pay his taxes, at the rate proposed in the budget, would have to sell two gallons of milk in order to despatch that letter.
Eggs sold in January and February from 23 to 25 cents per dozen, that is for strictly fresh eggs, classified as No. 1. They sell at present 15 cents per dozen.
Potatoes retail at 50 to 60 cents per bag. As to this farm product, it would be quite in order to give the house some particulars in respect to the effect of the high tariff adopted by the government. Our best market for the sale of our potatoes is the United States which bought from Canada, during the years 192829 and 1930, for an amount of $11,291,723. While the potato purchases for the whole of Canada amounted to $18,464,584. However, we also import potatoes from the United States. For the years 1928, 1929 and 1930, we imported $2,685,587 worth of potatoes; the balance in our favour being in the ratio of 4 to 1. The regular tariff is 75 cents per 100 pounds; the United States tariff is the same as ours.
A barrel of potatoes sells in the United States $5.70 and contains 3 bushels or 180 pounds. The usual duty would be $1.35 per barrel. The Bennett government for tariff purposes, fixes the price of potatoes imported from the United States at six cents per pound and informs the Canadian importer that he must pay that price to the American exporter, or pay the difference between six cents per pound the value fixed by the government and the market price, by means of an additional duty at the port of entry.
The situation is as follows:
1. The net price of potatoes is $5.70 per barrel of 180 pounds.
2. The regular duty is $1.35.
3. The government fixes the value of a barrel of potatoes for tariff purposes at $10.80.
4. A special duty is levied on the difference between the market price of $5.70 and the fixed price of $10.80, which means a difference of $5.10.
5. Adding this special duty of $5.10 to the regular duty of $1.35 we have a duty of $6.45 or 113 per cent of the market price, which simply means that the duty on a barrel of potatoes amounts to $6.45 while previously they were $1.35. Under these conditions a barrel of potatoes would cost $12.15, .previously it cost $7.05. The tariff schedule on this
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product before the levying of these new duties was on a basis of 23 per cent; it has now been raised to 113 per cent. This is a sequel to this discretionary power entrusted to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman).
Owing to the prohibitive duty on potatoes levied by the United States^ this country resorted to retaliation. The state of Maine and neighbouring states used to buy their seed potatoes from the maritime provinces, and the latter which supplied the Americans with excellent seed potatoes, received no more orders from those states. Those clients who once ordered 50,000 bags at a time, have discontinued their purchases. The result is that the price of this starchy product has dropped in the United States as it has done here, and the .potato growers of my county cannot obtain more than 50 to 60 cents per bag.
Who benefited by this? A few Canadian truck gardeners who grow early potatoes. These are a few results of this high tariff policy as applied to farm products.
We now come to the gasoline tax. The right hon. Minister of Finance increased by li cents the previous 1 cent tax on gasoline in order to allow a few refiners of gasoline to settle in Canada. Most of these refining companies are controlled by American capitalists. In 1929 we consumed 606,934,668 gallons of gasoline. If you figure out the fixed price and the duty on this gasoline entering the country, that is 3 cents, the amount obtained is $18,208,039.04. Deduct the expenses for refining, wages, etc., which amount to exactly $8,208,039.05, we find that there is an overcharge of S10,000,000. This amount is exacted from us in order to benefit American capitalists. Is it reasonable to make the farmers pay their quota of this amount for the work they perform on their farm-because the farmer uses gasoline for most of the work performed on the farm: tractors at sowing time, tilling, pressing and threshing; motors for sorting and wood sawing machinery, etc. The transportation of these farm products is mostly done by motor trucks. These are some of the uses to which gasoline is put on the farms of my county. Does the Prime Minister think that he helps agriculture when he levies a duty on a product so useful to farmers? Moreover, are there not instances of governments doing away with all taxes on gasoline when used for agricultural purposes? The Quebec government, for instance, has a 5 cents tax on gasoline; however, when it is used for agricultural purposes the tax is deducted. I fail to see why the Minister of Finance could not have inserted in his budget a clause similar to the one inserted on behalf
of our western friends in respect to wheat, thus dispensing the farmers of paying a gasoline tax when the latter is used on the farm. I do not think, sir, that the farmers of Ontario or Quebec are jealous of their western brothers 'because the generous Prime Minister grants them a big five cent piece for each bushel of wheat exported, but why were not the eastern farmers also given a rebate on the freight of their butter, cheese or milk to large centres or for purposes of export? It. would be a way of encouraging the farming class.
I consider that the farming class is not sufficiently protected in the present budget. Notwithstanding the fact that the farmers are in majority in this country, making up 53 per cent of the population. Agriculture is the basic industry of Canada. The other manufacturing industries are unable to make substantial progress, unless agriculture is encouraged and flourishes.
Unemployment will not disappear from cities as long as the farmers do not find the means of obtaining a certain amount of comfort from the results of their labours, thus inducing their families and children to follow in their footsteps. The rural population will not then to such an extent desert the farm in order to find a livelihood in cities. A just proportion between the population of cities and that of the rural districts will only be achieved when the farmer becomes more prosperous. The return to the land will then take place, and our countryside will become a real market supplying cities with its products and freeing the towns of their surplus population by putting them on the land to help the farmer.
The newspaper La Presse announced in its last evening issue that in Quebec, among the farmers, the pioneers of agriculture who settled parishes in the most remote corners of our province and that of Ontario, a movement has been started to help the farmer who is in distress. It takes the shape of subscription to help freeing cities of the sons of farmers who deserted or abandoned the land and placing them in new settlements of Quebec, Ontario, or in the other eastern provinces. I doubt whether this can be achieved in the near future because of the ruinous high tariff policy of the present government.
I state that the policy of protection advocated by the government will in no way better the lot of the farmer and the workman. What has happened since the Prime Minister has started this high tariff policy. Notwithstanding the vote of $20,000,000 in September last, the number of unemployed is increasing and
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cases of distress have become more numerous within the last eight months. The industries which were to spring up on every side have not resulted in an increase of the capital invested comparable with its increase in the preceding years.
The following are the statistics of the Department of Trade and Commerce, published in a Liberal newspaper, in answer to the contentions of the Conservative press that the increase of capital investments in industrial institutions since September, 1930, had been $14,000,000 in four months; however, the statistics of the same department, according to the same newspaper show that:
That capital invested in our industries which was $3,244,302,410, in 1922, increased to $3,380,000,000, in 1923; to $3,358,000,000, in 1924; to ' $3,808,000,000, in 1925; to $3,981,000,000, in 1926; to $4,337,000,000, in 1927; and finally to $4,780,000,000 in 1928. The figures for 1929 are not out, but it is estimated that the increase must have been 10 per cent, as in 1928. We therefore note an increase in capital investment of about $200,000,000 per year. From $136,000,000, in 1923, the increased value of capital investment in industry passed to $158,000,000, in 1924 and reached $440,000,000 in 1928. These figures must be placed side by side with the Conservative party's results to judge of the true economic view of the protective policy of Mr. Bennett.
Following this quotation I think it is necessary to briefly give the statistics which the Trade and Commerce department has just given out as to the quantities of grain accumulated in Canada:
The lack of sale of our grain and cereals, which so heavily burdens the Canadian farmer, has not only persisted during the fiscal year which ended on March 31, but has become more accentuated, as one may realize by looking over the statistics which have just been published by the Department of Trade and Commerce.
At this date last year, we had in our elevafhrs, 228,646,367 . bushels of wheat, 105,666,003 bushels of oats, 44,865,123 bushels of barley, 1,221.706 bushels of linseed and 11,040,353 bushels of rye, which amounted to the grand total of 391,439,552 bushels.
To-day, we have 593,664,582 bushels made up of 275,190,987 bushels of wheat, 210,272,666 bushels of oats, 84,630,228 bushels of barley, 2,797,116 bushels of linseed and 20,773,585 bushels of rye.
This is far from encouraging, when one considers the failure of the recent wheat congress, and the small chance of its success to restrict production in the near future.
These statistics cannot afford much hope to the farmer who is at present busy sowing for the next crop.
How does it happen that this unfortunate state of things exists and is getting worse from day to day? In my opinion it is the inevitable result of the high tariff protection which Canada has sought. Another expla-
nation which I also deem important is this unlimited discretionary power with which [DOT]the Ministers of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) and Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) were invested at the last September session. The instability of the tariff which results from this discretionary power has created in the country's commerce a hesitation, a trade uncertainty which, I think, is the great cause of the decrease in our imports and exports, and which will indefinitely prolong this economic depression as long as this instability of the tariff continues. I think, sir, that the government did not foresee the dangers connected with this extraordinary power granted to a minister.
The citizens of Canada expect another solution to the great problem of the day. I have no faith in this system of economic seclusion enforced by an unlimited high tariff, for a young country like ours, a country so vast with a popoulation relatively small. We feel the need, as it is natural to youth, of more expansion commercially, we feel the need of enlarging the circle of our friends and making ourselves known by all possible means, in keeping with the spirit of the Canadian people: courtesy, cooperation and diplomacy.
It is through those means that men and nations will find the solution to the great problems which interest the whole world, problems in the solution of which rests the happiness of humanity.
These considerations emphasize more so the importance of the stand taken by the right hon. Prime Minister, as representative of this country at the Imperial conference.
The self-confidence with which the right hon. Prime Minister presented himself at this meeting of distinguished statesmen, the frame of mind of which he had already given proof at the so-called emergency session, by enact- . ing tariff changes against the country which was to welcome him, and the form of challenge which he gave to his proposals, only resulted in creating among those from whom he was seeking favours, feelings of resentment and defensive measures. This attitude on the part of our Prime Minister brought forth from the lips of one of the distinguished British cabinet ministers the expression which has become famous of "humbug," and which has greatly humiliated members of the government. But what has more serious consequences for Canada, is that as a sequel to this -momentary friction between the Canadian Prime Minister and the British cabinet, the latter have made overtures of bonne entente, it is said, to certain European coun-
Trust Companies Act
tries in order to promote closer trade relations between them, and, these European countries will attempt to take advantage of the tense situation existing between England and Canada.
The right hon. Prime Minister had announced another conference for the autumn, but according to the statement he gave out a few days ago, this conference will not take place this year. A number of delegates who were to take part gave as a reason for being unable to attend, that they had not had sufficient time to study the proposals which were to be submitted to the conference. Should not Canada, herself, knowing the insignificant results of the policy of unlimited high protection and being fully aware of the results obtained through this policy by our neighbours to the south, abandon this policy unsuited to her and adopt without hesitation that of the golden mean, the broadminded policy which has given the country in the past-under the government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier-years of prosperity heretofore unknown and which also restored confidence and placed the credit of Canada on a sound basis at the advent of the King government, when the Canadian dollar was only quoted at 80 cents.
Notwithstanding the enormous debt then burdening the Canadian people, thanks to this economic and good will trade policy towards foreign countries, the King government brought the Canadian dollar to par on all financial exchanges of the world; by degree it was able to pay off the obligations entered in by the preceding administration; it greatly relieved the nation of taxation and ended its mandate in 1930 by a surplus of almost $50,000,000.
Are these considerations, sir, not sufficient to incite the government to foster the general interest of the Canadian people, instead of continuing and being wedded-so as not to appear ridiculous and be thrown out of office -to a policy too restrictive and contrary to the interests of a very large majority of the people of this country.
I have submitted to the house these few remarks with an open mind and to the best of my ability. May I assure you, sir, that I have done so in the interest of those citizens who, like myself, have no dearer country than Canada,"and in the interest of the class which comprises half the population of this country, the farming class, which I am privileged to represent in the house.
On motion of Mr. Rhodes the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Stevens the house adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Friday, June 12, 1931.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL