Marie Joseph DEMERS

DEMERS, Marie Joseph, K.C., B.S., LL.B., B.C.L.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
Birth Date
May 31, 1871
Deceased Date
July 28, 1940
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Joseph_Demers
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=b3353817-23f7-4cc0-9364-973411f9b454&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 16, 1906 - September 17, 1908
LIB
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
LIB
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
LIB
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
L LIB
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
December 6, 1921 - July 21, 1922
LIB
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 31)


April 5, 1922

1. How many persons were made permanent

in the Civil Service from the 1st of April, 1920, to the 1st of January, 1922? .

2. How many persons were made permanent in the said service from December 7, 1921, to January 6, 1922, inclusive?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
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April 3, 1922

Mr. DEMERS:

How many persons are employed In the income tax office at Montreal, and what are their names?

Topic:   NAMES OF TUGS-COAL SUPPLY AND COAL USED
Subtopic:   INCOME TAX, MONTREAL OFFICE
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May 16, 1921

Mr. DEMERS:

For a scheme like that, it was a very few hours to discuss the policy of the Government, and the time was so short that even now we have not the necessary information. The attitude of the Government was the application of arbitrary methods that the people of this country cannot and will not tolerate for very long. It was a violation of the fundamental principles of responsible Government. It was the application of the' autocratic rules which existed before the Magna Charta, when constitutional Government was unknown, when the people had no right to be heard and when the only governmental principle was "taxation without representation." Perhaps this is a digression; but let me say that the first thing that we should preserve in this country above any matter, (financial or economic, is -responsible Government. We shall not forget the struggles that the people had to go through before being

recognized, before obtaining the consecration of the principle that their representatives should have absolute control of all moneys asked for and spent by the Government. For my part, I diaim that this principle has been wilfully and generally ignored and violated by this Administration, and that the tendencies of this Government have been such in that respect that the main issue during the next general election should be the necessity of re-establishment of responsible Government in Canada. This will be the best kind of reconstruction work for our country. It will furnish the best contribution to its greatness and prosperity, and to the welfare and happiness of its people.

May I also be permitted to say that amongst the many problems that we have to face in Canada, there is one of importance that should not be overlooked, and that is the question of the relations between capital and labour. Generally speaking, the workers throughout Canada are not satisfied with existing conditions; there is a certain amount of discontent and unrest.

. To that condition of affairs many causes may have contributed, which it would be too long and too difficult to analyse because they pertain to the social, psychological and economic domains. But I think we can arrive at this conclusion, that labour will never revert to its pre-war condition. For myself, I am glad of that, because I do firmly believe that in the past the workers all over the world did not get a fair share of the happiness and good things of life. I am a believer in the principle of fraternity and equality; I think it is only by the application of this Christian principle that our civilization can be saved. I believe it is the duty of every public man to give this question of the relations between capital and labour his best attention in order to find some way of effecting a reconciliation between these two elements. If the House will permit me, I will give my own personal opinion as to the ways and means that might be adopted to attain such a result.

There are, according to my mind, two ways by which a reconciliation can be effected. First, the workers should be satisfied that they are getting a reasonable share of the profits realized from their work. Mark you, Mr. Speaker, I do not say that they should have an equal share of the profits. What is in my mind is this: that they should have a reasonable participation in the profits, after allowance

218J

has been made for the risks and responsibility of the employers, for the costs of materials, administration, and executive, for running and overhead charges, and manufacturer's profit. Or Sir, excess profits should be employed to form a reserve fund to provide for old age pensions, mother's and widow's pensions or other humanitarian institutions. I think |we should always remember that labour is a living, fighting force, fighting for equality, and that it will not stop until it achieves a victory.

Coming back to the question of the necessity for economy, as I said before, I cannot see any evidence of any such spirit in the policy of the Government. I have spoken of the railway and shipbuilding policies of the Government, which, to my mind, are nothing but a negation of any principle of economy. Let me now point to some other matters that call for the immediate attention of the Canadian Government, if we are ever to get out of our difficulties. There is for instance, the question of the Civil Service. For my part, I believe that our Civil Service is inadequate in this sense, that we have by far too many civil servants. I think that their number should be gradually reduced. I believe that some millions of dollars could be saved in that direction, and I think that that is a work that should be started at once.

There is another question upon which I desire to say a few words, and that is the question of military expenditure. The Minister of Militia (Mr. Guthrie) quoted some statistics the other day going to show that Canada's expenditure on naval and military defence was lower than that of any other country in the world. Sir, we know that comparisons are odious, and this case, I think, is no exception to the rule. To compare Canada with sovereign countries seems to me to be no more reasonable than to compare the physical strength of a man with that of a child; and when you compare Canada with the other Dominions, if you wish to make a. fair comparison, there are many things that you must take into consideration. First of all, we should look not merely at the amount expended in only one branch of the administration of a country, but at the total expenditure of every one of these Dominions with which a comparison is made. Their geographical situation must also be taken into account, as well as other factors. But even if all these conditions were exactly the same in the different countries that my hon. friend the minister has mentioned, I

do not think we can fairly conclude that because one country is spending too much money in one direction, we should also do the same thing. If the minister is satisfied with his statistics, I certainly believe that the people of this country do not share his satisfaction. For my part, in view of the very grave financial situation of Canada, and of the additional taxation to be imposed, I was expecting a substantial reduction in our military expenditure. The expenditure of $12,000,000 for military purposes is, in my opinion, nothing short of extravagance, and the same can be said of many public works such, for instance, as: the Victoria dry dock, which is the subject of some interesting discussion at the present moment; the Toronto harbour; the St. John harbour; improvements to the Welland and Trent canals; and other undertakings of that character. In the face of these extravagances it is nothing but provocation to the people for the Government now to talk about additional taxation. As I said, economy should be the watchword everywhere, and it is for this Government to set the example.

There is one matter of supreme importance, in regard to which the Government will have to render strict account, and that is the acceptance of the battleships offered by the Admiralty. The attitude of the Government in this matter had no justification whatever. We should not spend one cent on the expansion of the Canadian navy. Sir, we have nothing to fear, and, therefore, we do not need a navy. There is only one country with whom we might expect to have difficulties, and that is, our neighbours to the south of us, the United States. I am sure, however, that there is no hon. member in this House who would say that there is, or can be, any reasonable fear of such a calamity as a rupture between us and the United States. It would be absurd and entirely wrong on our part to provoke any serious conflict with them, and it would be equally unjustifiable and unjust for them to do anything that would incur our enmity. All that we need in the way of a Canadian naval force is a fleet that will provide protection for our fisheries, protection not against any nation, but against individuals. I say that the acceptance of these battleships will simply burden the people of this country with a very large and unnecessary expenditure for which there can be no excuse, and I therefore register my protest against such a policy. Some one will probably say that we on this side of the House did once favour a

I Mr. Demers.]

Canadian navy. I shall not pay any more attention to that question than to say that we submited our policy to the people and it was rejected. Is there any reason to believe that the public sentiment in that respect has changed, especially when there is no longer ground for the fear that existed then, and when the causes for apprehension have disappeared? There is something more to say on this question. These battleships were accepted without the consent of the people or of Parliament, and the consequences of this action may prove of very great national importance. The acceptance of a gift of such a nature may well involve dangerous obligations in the future, and I cannot too strongly express my protest against the autocratic and unconstitutional action of the Government in this matter.

I said a moment ago that economy is absolutely necessary everywhere to-day; but economy, Mr. Speaker, is not the only necessity in Canada. There is one great principle, the application of which will do more than anything else to accomplish the great work of reconstruction which rests with the public men of this country. That principle is this: Mind your own business. That principle is that Canada should be the only object of our attention and consideration at this time. We should restrict our activities to Canada exclusively. Our country is large enough to require the concentration of all our energies towards its development. Let us be Canadians first, [DOT]and Canadians only; let us get out of European and Imperial affairs. It is about time that the true Canadian began the work of creating an exclusive Canadian sentiment in this country, and there could be no better time than now that we realize that we cannot ever meet its requirements.

I was impressed the other day with an article which I read in no less important a paper than the Montreal Gazette, which declared that Parliament is sick of the League of Nations and of trips to Europe by Cabinet ministers. I thought that that was the real feeling of a good many members of this House, also, if they would only voice it. At any rate, any man who does not agree with that view must admit that he has not learned the lessons of true Cana-dianism which we received from the two great leaders, Macdonald and Laurier.

Sir, Canada is the only country in the world for us; it is all that we can call our own, and it is so immense in area and of such vast possibilities that it will take all our time to develop it. Let us not only

sing, but let us feel and fully appreciate the sentiment of our national anthem, "0! Canada."

It is not my intention, Mr. Speaker, to deal with any other questions at this time, but before resuming my seat, I should like to summarize, in a few words, my views as to the methods which this Government should adopt to carry out the work of reorganization and reconstruction: First, an exclusively Canadian policy; second, restoration of responsible government; third, solution of labour problems; and, fourth, economy in every branch of administration. Such is, Sir, to my mind, the policy that would restore prosperity and greatness to Canada. 1

Mr. THOMAS W. CALDWELL (Victoria and Carleton, N.B.): Mr. Speaker, I have followed with a great deal of interest the different speeches that have been delivered during this debate. I must say, however, that I was rather disappointed in the speech the Prime Minister delivered on Friday last. I think the members of this House, and the people of the country, expected the Prime Minister to deal with the very serious problems that face the country to-day-the railway situation, the unemployment situation, and the other serious issues that confront the country. But what were we treated to on the part of the right hon. gentleman? He gave one of the greatest expositions of ridicule and abuse that this House has ever witnessed. The Prime Minister accused our little group, in this part of the chamber, of not moving their platform in Parliament. Mr. Speaker, it reminds me of a passage in a book that hon. gentlemen are more or less familiar with: Cast not your pearls before swine.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. DEMERS:

Does the minister believe that Canada can be summoned before the League of Nations?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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April 28, 1921

Mr. DEMERS:

Why was the International Postal Union scale adopted as the basis for our contribution?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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