Mr. FRANKLIN SMOKE (Brant):
Mr. Speaker, one thing I have noticed to-night, and I have noticed it also on previous occasions is that there is a very great difference between the manner of the speaker who has just resumed his seat when he is outside and when he is inside this chamber. Outside he has a smiling face and charming manner, which certainly appeals to me and I am sure must appeal to other members who meet him. The tone of his address, however, in the House, Mr. Speaker, is so objectionable, even to his own colleagues, that I feel they must hang their heads with some degree of shame when listening to such remarks as those made by him to-night. If this is the way in which the national issues were discussed in his own province during the last campaign, we need not wonder at the decision then given by the people of Quebec. The question of the tariff apparently was never discussed there. I do not think that such an address tends to elevate the tone of this House. It would be a want of respect on my part to this House if I devoted any time whatever to remarks along that line. While his remarks appeared to cause some degree of merriment on the opposite side of the House, I should hope that the spirit of his speech does not appeal to the better sense of hon. gentlemen opposite.
As a new member of this House, though not by any means the youngest, I have thought it my duty not only to my constituents and myself but also, Sir, to you and the other members of this House to sit back and pay heed to the occasional words of wisdom which might' happen to fall from those better versed in parliamentary procedure and in the public business of the country.
I have been much interested and fully occupied in feeling my way about, in endeavouring perhaps, first of all, to learn the first principles of parliamentary procedure; perhaps next, in paying heed to the way in which those members of the administration who occupy seats in this House have sought, though sought in vain, to justify both their right to administer and their administrative acts, activity or inactivity; and next, in observing the way in which those who have criticized the government and its acts have performed their task. I have willingly sat back to listen to the older and more experienced members of this House and, indeed, to very many new members, and when I have observed the splendid way in which all these hon. gentlemen on this side of the House have acquitted themselves, I have felt
that my silence up to this point has been justified.
My constituents, I may say, do not expect me to take a prominent part in the debates of the House. They are very inexacting in this respect. I believe they will be quite satisfied if I do my share in the work they sent me here to do, namely, to give my support to our right hon. leader-and we do not ask lessons from the opposite side of the House as to our leadership; we are all loyally devoted to our venerated leader-in the splendid effort he and his supporters, and in fact the great bulk of the Canadian people, have made and are making to hurl from power the most incapable government this country has yet seen.
I did not come to this parliament imbued with the idea that all of our statesmen of the past have failed to grasp the essential principles of government, nor with the enthusiasm, often misdirected, of youth. I have attempted to read history and to study mankind, and to learn from these studies those lessons which only such studies can teach. We are heirs of the ages and should, from the wisdom of the ages, have acquired some wisdom ourselves. We should not forget that problems as great as we at present are faced with have presented themselves in all past ages since the beginning of time; and that the condition of things existing at present is the composite result of the best minds of all times. Our present constitution is the composite result of the labours of our forefathers and predecessors, arrived at after full discussion of all the pros and cons, and I am satisfied that the works of our forefathers have resulted in a constitution and a set of laws, perhaps not the best, but good enough until we or our posterity can evolve a better; and that we should go slowly in making changes.
What we have is the result of centuries of careful thought and development, and should command and receive some degree of veneration from the present generation, and changes made either in our system of government or in details should not be made hastily or without the best consideration we can give to them; we should not forget, in our haste for change, the struggles of the past from which our present laws have resulted. In this sense I claim to be a Conservative, and I am proud to admit allegiance to the party which adheres to Conservative principles- never averse to change when it is clearly shown that the change is for the better; but until so shown I prefer to stick to what has come down to us as a result of the experience of the ages.
The Budget-Mr. Smoke
We found ourselves called to assemble in the first session of the fifteenth parliament of Canada, presumably to do the business of the country. We found no business to do, or rather, no business which the government had ready for us to do. When we got here we found it was not the country's business but the private affairs of the members of the government that were to engage our attention ; and that until we said whether the right hon. gentleman who was Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) during the fourteenth parliament and several other hon. gentlemen, half of whom were and half of whom were not members of this parliament, should continue to administer the affairs of the country when the people of the country, by their votes at the polls in an election called at a time which the government thought would be favourable to them, and on issues selected by them, had expressed their want of confidence in the government, we should not do any business. And even after that question was decided, the government ruled that we should not do any business until a further period of six weeks, or such part thereof as might have remained, should have elapsed.
The Speech from the Throne does not promise the legislation outlined in pre-election addresses, all of which have been thrown into the discard. This government is consistent only in its inconsistency. It is impossible of characterization by even such an epigrammatist as George Bernard Shaw. As a government it is the laughing-stock of the civilized world.
There is a parallel to the situation here recently exhibited in New South Wales. I shall quote from the Spectator, London, of February 27, 1926, and by the way the editor of that paper was until quite recently-and he still is on the editorial staff-Mr. J. St. Loe Strachey, who kindly presented to this parliament and the people of Canada a bust of Lord Durham. The Spectator is perhaps the most high-class of English weeklies, and is respected by all English-speaking people in the world who know its traditions. It says:
Last week we wrote about the constitutional crisis in New South Wales. In the Times of Wednesday we read that events there have taken an unexpected turn. At the instance of Mr. Lang, the Labour Premier, the Governor, Sir Dudley de Chair, had consented to a swamping nomination of members to the legislative council. Mr. Lang was intent upon abolishing the council, which he calls a reactionary body, though in fact it has always interpreted its revising duties temperately. This nomination to the council of twenty-five new members was the largest ever made in the history of New South Wales. Mr. Lang assumed that his nominees would vote for political suicide. But he was mistaken. In vain he threatened that if the members of the council were obstinate he
would deprive them of the rights to prefix "Honourable1' before their names, and to travel free on the Sydney tramways. By a majority of six the council threw out the motion to restore the Abolition bill to the business paper.
We wonder what will happen now. Very likely Mr. Lang will ask the Governor for a fresh and still more swamping nomination. But by that time feeling in New South Wales will have grown even stronger than it is now against Mr. Lang's passion for having a so-called democratic state run by a Labour caucus. Mr. Lang has a tiny majority in form only; numerically he is in a minority.
Note the parallel:
-yet he has tried to pass a startling series of measures which were not mentioned at the elections. How strange that such things should be done with a straight face in the name of democracy!
The issues upon which the government chose to go to the people were outlined at considerable length by the Prime Minister in his Richmond Hill speech on the 5th of September last. Finding that the people, by their votes, did not approve of the policies laid down at Richmond Hill parliament was summoned for another purpose and a Speech from the Throne was placed in the mouth of His Excellency which ignored entirely the principles laid down at Richmond Hill. Not one single feature appearing in the Speech from the Throne was a real feature in the election campaign.
Among other matters featured in the Speech from the Throne was the selection of a Tariff Advisory Board, whose duty it would be to investigate all matters of tariff adjustment and to report to the government. The government took great merit to itself in professing to take the tariff out of politics, to the extent, at least, of having, before making any changes, the benefit of advice from the Tariff Advisory Board and its experts.
One of the most radical changes in the tariff which this country has seen in many years was brought down in the budget speech of the hon. the Finance Minister on the 15th of April, the result of which, so far as the government know and so far as anybody else can know at the present, may be the complete wiping out of an industry in which it is said ' from seventy-five to a hundred millions of capital is invested. In support of this change in the tariff the only reason the Finance Minister gave in the budget speech was that there seems to be a widespread opinion that the tariff on automobiles is too high. He did not say-for he could not say-that a thorough investigation had been made by experts qualified to pass judgment on the question and that this tariff change was justifiable. Thus, within eight days of the passing of the order in council reporting the personnel of the
The Budget-Mr. Smoke
Tariff Advisory Board, this government flouted the board and announced to the world that, no matter what the Tariff Advisory Board may say or do, this government is actuated solely by a turbulent clamour that somebody in business in Canada is making a little more money than he should make.
These sudden changes in policy cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be justified on the ground of principle but only on the ground of expediency. It is a last desperate effort on the part of this government to hang on to the reins of office through appeals which they think will secure votes. In this connection we are reminded of the couplet appearing in the Bigelow papers, of James Russel Lowell:
A marciful Providence fashioned us holler
O' purpose that we might our principles swaller."
And also in the following from the same author:
"I du believe in prayer and praise To him thet hez the grantin'
Of jobs, in everything thet pays,
But most of all in cantin'.
This duth my cup with marcies fill,
This lays all thought o' sin to rest.
I don't believe in princerple,
But I du in interest! "
It is not my intention, however, to pursue the course which I have observed most frequently during the debates which have taken place in the process of arguing before this House the economic questions which were so thoroughly discussed in election speeches during the October campaign and to support it with statistics. It strikes me that that feature has been fully covered and if repeated further, should be by someone better qualified than I am. Rather than go into general principles, I would ask the House to bear with me while I inform it of the. local conditions which prevail in my own constituency and which are characteristic of a hundred other constituencies and try to point out some of the object lessons to which it would be wise , on the part of the government to pay some heed.
My riding, Brant, consists of about half rural and half urban population. As part of the city of Brantford and most of the suburbs dependent on the city are in my riding, I claim an equal interest-as I have an equal right-with the hon. member for Brantford to deal with the situation there.
It should be our effort to discover what wa3 the verdict of the electorate on the 29th of October; and if and when discovered, to give effect to it; and I can, I believe, best devote the time which I intend to take in this debate
by acquainting the House with local conditions.
To question the fact that the tariff was the great, and in fact the only, question which decided the result of the election in both Brant ridings, would be trifling with the matter, and I hope the House will appreciate this fact and bear with me in what I have to say.
Dealing first with the riding of Brantford, it will be remembered by some that in the general election campaign of 1921 Mr. W. G. Raymond wa3 elected as a Liberal by a majority of about 2,000. Brantford is, or at least it was prior to 1921, a great industrial city, and we all on this side of the House hope it will not be long before she is restored to her former proud and enviable position. The present Prime Minister was brought to Brantford in the 1921 campaign and on Mr. Raymond's platform gave the people of Brantford the assurance that no change would be made in the tariff which would injuriously affect Brantford industries, relying on which promises the electors of Brantford chose Mr. Raymond as their representative. These promises were not kept. When the definite vote came which resulted in so great a disaster to the Brantford industries and has practically closed many of them dowm, Mr. Raymond is said to have protested but the legislation went through notwithstanding his protest, and having made his protest Mr. Raymond after all supported the government in its general policy. The result to Brantford was the loss in four years of one-seventh of its population, most of whom formed part of the exodus of over half a million who went to the United States during that period. The condition as regards unemployment was deplorable and the financial loss cannot be computed.
At the general elections of the 29th of October last, the people of Brantford rose en masse, defeated Mr. Raymond by about 2,500, and elected for its representative a consistent advocate of adequate protection, who can be relied upon at all times to uphold the interests of his constituents not only when the particular measures intended to benefit the city are in question, but even if such should be the case, as it was in the last House, when its interests were jeopardized by the government in power, if the government should be the government led by our right hon. leader.
The result of this state of affairs in the city of Brantford was, of course, apparent not only in the three polling divisions of the city which form part of my riding of Brant but also in the suburbs and throughout the whole country, the latter for many reasons. Many of the suburban residents derived their living in
The Budget-Mr. Smoke
Brantford and were equally affected by the depressions in the city. Factory afteT factory closed down and the most of those that did not close down went on short time. There being such an exodus and so great a want of employment among those who stayed, the home market for the poultrymen and the market gardeners was demoralized and this class of the population suffered accordingly not only by a reduced population in Brantford and Paris but by the inability of those who remained to buy, due to the fact that they were unemployed and had perforce to draw in their belts in lieu of taking a hearty meal. The inequitability of tariff rates,- that is, those on produce coming into Canada as compared with the rates of duty on goods going into the United States,-was a great factor in the country districts. Importations from the warmer climates,-early fruits and early vegetables-to the Brantford and Paris markets satiating the appetites of the consumers before the domestic varieties could mature, affected the price of similar products in the country round about when later on their products reached the mature and marketable stage. This worked to the disadvantage of the home producer. It reduced the prices he was able to get for his early vegetables and, to the extent of the amount of foreign goods consumed, displaced just so much of the products of the Canadian farmer and the market gardener. People must eat. If they do not eat foreign goods, they eat domestic products. It may be what is left over from the last season's crop but if not as palatable, it is quite as nutritious or nearly so, as the imported article. The home market was completely demoralized. The fiscal policy was responsible for the slowing down or stoppage of the factories, caused much unemployment, and the exodus referred to. Is it any wonder that there was such a revulsion of feeling in both rural and urban sections of the country!
I have told the result in the riding of Brantford. Brant has, with the exception of ' two previous parliaments, been Liberal since confederation, the majorities being up in the several hundreds and sometimes over one thousand. The recent election resulted in a Conservative majority of 978 out of a total vote polled of a little over 7,000. It was recognized by the Liberal party that, there being a Progressive in the field, it would be impossible to elect a Liberal and after giving the matter consideration for the best part of a month, the candidate who had received the nomination from the Liberal convention withdrew and left the field to the Progressive
and myself, the machine Liberals trying, though ineffectually, to stampede all former Liberals into the Progressive camp.
To arrive at the result that was arrived at in the riding of Brant, this government must surely understand that at least 500 and perhaps 1.000 of their former most staunch friends and supporters changed their allegiance in the recent campaign. Is it the intention of this government to ignore entirely these staunch former supporters who always were quite as good citizens and quite as good Liberals as any who have remained in the Liberal party? They exercised some independence in their judgment. They saw the trend of affairs. It was not easy for them to renounce their allegiance to the Liberal party. Only those people voted Liberal in the last election who were either not thorough students of public affairs and who had been former Liberals and followed their party as a matter of course, or those who had been and would remain Liberals through thick and through thin no matter what those at the head of the Liberal party might say or do. I do appeal to this government to pay some heed to those Liberals who most reluctantly left their party in the last campaign and who would no doubt be glad to go back to their party if the leaders would only get their eyes open and listen to reason.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was the tariff that was the one and only issue in the good old riding of Brant. Liberal and Progressive speakers take great delight in accusing us of being in favour of a high tariff. This is a false accusation except in so far as it applies to the tariff on poultry and garden produce. On these I say and believe, with my honoured leader and all his supporters, we should apply the motto: "Brick for brick." As for manufacturing industries, however, our motto is: An adequate tariff to insure that an industry run efficiently and economically, shall be able to operate at a reasonable profit and that the tariff adjustments should be made entirely on this consideration.
Much ado is raised over the so-called "big interests." Do the people ever stop to consider that this term is greatly overworked? Nearly all the industries of any magnitude I know of are joint stock companies whose stocks are listed on the exchanges and whose stocks can be acquired on the open market. Few of the industrial stocks are quoted at over par, and anyone with $100 or so to invest can become part owner. As a matter of fact, it can be said of but few of our big industries that they are either one-man companies or
The Budget-Mr. Smoke
companies in which the stock is held by a few shareholders. The number of shareholders more frequently runs into the hundreds and the thousands. It is a rare thing for a so-called capitalist to invest all his money in one company. He is much more apt to invest in mortgages, bonds or debentures and be content with a smaller, though safer, rate of interest for his money.
I look upon capital as the greatest of blessings to the workingman. You can only get capital out of the hands of the capitalist by giving him the inducement of a larger probable profit from industrial concerns than from such safe investments as mortgages, bonds and debentures.
An adequate tariff which safeguards the investment of capital placed in the hands of efficient management insures work for the workingman, a market for agricultural products, and an adequate rate to the man or group of men who supply the money without which no industry can exist. Some plan of supervision and audit should be devised ' to see that the tariff protection afforded does not permit undue profits to be made or exploitation of the public. When such appear, the time will come for a reduction in the tariff but while this parliament has the power, it would be very unwise for them to exercise the power to make any alteration in the tariff unless and until some one or more experts fully qualified to make a thorough study of the question should advise that the change is desirable, will benefit the public, and will not do an injustice to those interests which are affected by the change. The word "adequate" is the most appropriate word that can be applied to such a tariff.
If there is one thing that has struck me since coming to this parliament, it is that there appears to be an unwritten law that you must not, on the floor of this House, call a spade a spade. What is apparent to the man on the street, and to which he gives free expression as to the relations existing between this government and the Progressive party in this House, upon whom the government are entirely dependent for a continuance in office, must not, it seems, be discussed in plain words on the floor of the House. Even at the risk of using language which may be challenged as unparliamentary, it seems to me and to everyone in the country outside the walls of parliament, whether Labour, Liberal, Conservative or Progressive, that the party in the House which pulls the strings ought to be in the place of power and in receipt of the emoluments of office and the honours
which go with filling such important positions. It says much for the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) that he is willing to forego all these honours, but only goes to show that he is a Liberal at heart and that the Progressive side of his nature is merely camouflage, as all other pretences are.
The Liberal party have been prone to refer to their principles as sacred, and to themselves as the great upholders of responsible government. We see here, instead of responsible government, a government carried on under the more euphonious, if less honest, name of co-operation. The government itself cannot carry on, however. They are shackled at every step by the chains which, in refusing to recognize the voice of the people, they have forged upon their owrn ankles. Is it not more patriotic to bow to the will of the people than to mark time, as they admitted they were doing before the elections, or to do even less than that if such a thing were possible; and it may almost be said that that is what they are doing at present. At one of the first sessions of this parliament in a burst of impatience, the hon. Minister of Justice, then acting leader of the House (Mr. Lapointe), reminded my right hon. leader of a sasdng of Oliver Cromwell to his supporters: "In the name of God, my friends, get it into your heads that you may be wrong." I say to the right hon. Prime Minister and his government: In the name of God, my friends, get it into your heads that you may be wrong in pursuing the course that you are pursuing.
In every election since confederation in which the tariff was the first issue, the cause of protection has won. The National Policy was first advocated about 1876 or 1877; it was an issue in the election of 1878 and it succeeded at the polls. In every subsequent general election up to and inclusive of 1891 the tariff issue, in one shape or another, was the paramount issue and in every case our party was successful. In 1896 the tariff was relegated to the background. Other issues prevailed and the result was a change of government brought in especially on the strength of the Manitoba school question, though other issues no doubt played a considerable part in the decision the people of the country arrived at. In no other election subsequent to 1896, until the reciprocity election of 1911, was the tariff a real issue, and in that election the Liberal party, which favored reciprocity, went down to defeat. We all know what happened to this government in the 1925 election.
We can quite understand the favour which the idea of reciprocity received in the mind of the Prime Minister of this country. Per-
The Budget-Mr. Lapierre
haps the greatest disservice that the Liberal party has ever done to Canada was in the Liberal convention here in 1919, when they selected the present Prime Minister as the leader of their party after the lamented death of Sir Wilfrid Laurier; as usual the United States has got the better of the bargain. They gave us a Liberal leader and a prospective Prime Minister, and they took from us five to six hundred thousand red-blooded Canadians.
May I make a special appeal to the French-Canadian element in this parliament? I notice, and I am sorry to notice it, a feeling among the French-Canadian element in this House of race antagonism, particularly toward the province of Ontario. Let me say to the French-Canadian members that I trace my ancestry back to one who came from France to Quebec nearly three centuries ago, and that the other strains in my blood come from other countries of continental Europe by way of the United States, those who came in this way leaving there at the time of or immediately after the American war of the revolution. I thus have no blood relationship with the English speaking portions of Canada, who derive their ancestry from the British Isles, and I therefore feel that I can, with some measure of reason, appeal to the French Canadian element of our population without having my motives impugned. Some things have been done in our past history which were not conducive to the entente cordiale which should exist between the two principal races which form a part of our population. I have never found in my lifelong association with the English speaking portion of our people any real antagonism to the French Canadian race. Across the floor I am glad and proud to see a second cousin of mine, a French Canadian, and I appeal to him, and through him may I appeal to the other descendants of the French race in this House, to align themselves with that party in this House with which, in the days of Sir John A. Macdonald, the people of Quebec were almost solidly in accord, and with his political successors who stand for an adequate protective policy for all classes in this country and for equal rights to all.