Personal Data

Last Mountain (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
December 15, 1873
Deceased Date
December 29, 1956

Parliamentary Career

July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Last Mountain (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 27 of 27)

May 7, 1931


Mr. Speaker, I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion by saying that I believe I have fulfilled the duty imposed upon me when I was sent here to represent to the best of my ability the constituency of Last Mountain. I have made statements which can be substantiated, and I have not made one statement which cannot be substantiated.

Agricultural Conditions

Before I close however I would like to state frankly that I do not believe the government is responsible for existing conditions; I believe they are not wholly responsible. I believe I made that statement before. Probably they did something to aggravate the situation during the last session of parliament but on the other hand I think there are things they may do which will relieve the present situation. I do not believe however that it is within the power of the government to cure the present economic situation. However we ask them only to do the best they can. With regard to the last paragraph of the amendment moved 'by the hon member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown) I think there are suggestions therein contained which the government might well reconsider.

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March 23, 1931

Mr. HARRY BUTCHER (Last Mountain):

I have noticed that three or four of the newer members who have recently spoken have said they have risen with diffidence. To say that I have risen with diffidence would be altogether to underestimate my feelings at the present moment. I must confess that I have not yet overcome the sense of awe I experienced when I first entered this chamber. When I looked upon the faces of men whose names have been household words in Canada for many years, whose speeches I have been reading for many years, men on both sides of the house, men I have come to feel that I knew personally, although I had never met them or spoken to them, I felt it would be almost an impertinence for one like myself, with so little knowledge, with so little ability to express himself, to rise and give utterance to the opinions I hold. Nevertheless I hold certain opinions that are the result of reading, the result of meeting with other men who have become possessed of knowledge in the political world, and I feel it is my duty to give expression to those opinions to-night, because that was one of the purposes for which I was elected in July last.

I should like to say first of all that I frankly and freely admit that the Conservative party in power to-day is not and cannot be held wholly responsible for the unhappy conditions that exist at the present time both in the matter of the lack of market for our farm products and in the matter of unemployment. I must say however that in my opinion, in the

matter of a market for farm products, the situation was aggravated somewhat by the legislation passed at the short session of parliament; and I firmly believe, in the matter of unemployment, that time will prove that even in that respect the legislation of the last session has been an aggravation rather than otherwise.

During the election campaign our opponents in the west, and in the east too, were blaming the policies of the Liberal party for the unhappy conditions then existing. We did not believe that we were to blame. On the other hand, we were willing to accept the reasoned opinions of those who were fully conversant with world conditions. I have before me an opinion expressed by Sir Frederick Williams-Taylor, vice-president of the Bank of Montreal, as published in the Financial Times of London, England. He said:

Canada, except for the wheat situation which is slowly correcting itself, has been less affected than almost any other country by the economic and industrial crisis through which the world at large is at present passing.

About the same time Mr. J. C. Waugh, President of Brydges and Waugh Limited, financial agents of Winnipeg, said:

I had the pleasure recently of meeting a very prominent English business man. He was on his return from a tour around the world.

I was telling him of our grain situation here. He said, "You know, your situation is not peculiar. Australia's wool market, Mexico's silver market, Brazil's coffee market, Cuba's sugar market, the United States' grain and cotton market, and practically the market of every producing country in the world, is each in just as difficult a position as yours here. In England we have been going through these conditions for nine years, and I should say that Canada seems to be the last place to have been affected.

I am led to the conclusion that even our Conservative opponents in the west were not quite sincere when they said that they held us responsible for those unhappy conditions to which I have referred. I notice to-day they are inclined to blame world conditions for this situation. I notice that even the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) at Calgary on January 3rd is reported by a Canadian Press-despatch as having made a statement to this effect. He himself did not use the following, words; they are the words of the correspondent. I quote:

Application of temporary measures to correct present economic conditions will not satisfy Premier R. B. Bennett. He is determined to unearth the final causes of the present depression and lay a secure foundation for permanent future prosperity. So he told a large gathering of his fellow-citizens of Calgary assembled Friday at a luncheon arranged jointly by the board of trade, the young men's section of the board' of trade and the ICiwanis club.

The Address-Mr. Butcher

"I cannot make up my mind," lie said, "why this country between the lake and the mountains should experience the depression, why people who have lived here for years should now find themselves without any accumulation of goods, sometimes without the barest necessities of life." _

Mr. Bennett said he had no fixed idea as to the answer to the questions which came to his mind, but was determined to find it. With a country with the credit of Canada palliatives could easily be supplied, but it was essential to provide for lasting security. The government was confronted not only with a problem of adjustment, but with the necessity of finding and eradicating the ultimate causes of depression.

From that it seems clear that the Prime Minister himself did not believe that Liberal policies were the cause of the depression that existed; but on the other hand he declared that he was setting out to discover what those causes actually were. Notwithstanding the fact that I cannot find it reasonable to blame the Conservative party, the government of to-day for the conditions that exist, I think I am quite justified in again reminding the Prime Minister and his followers that they were pledged to remedy the situation at once, forthwith. The Prime Minister himself said that if he were returned to power he would end unemployment; he would cause unemployment to be a bogey to be laughed at. He further said that he would force a way into the markets of the world for our wheat. Surely we have a right to believe that the Prime Minister was sincere when he uttered those words, and we have a right to say t<5 him: Redeem your promises; you were returned to power upon the understanding that you would fulfil this promise forthwith after your election.

I am going to add that the present Prime Minister did redeem two promises which he made, and he redeemed them very promptly. The first of those promises was that a special session should be called to deal with these matters; the second was that at that special session provision would be made for unemployment relief. Both of those promises were kept. The special session was called as soon as possible after the people had recorded their verdict. At that special session an amount of $20,000,000 was, as we all know, voted for the relief of unemployment; but this vote of $20,000,000, important as it was, for the relief of unemployment, was but a trifling matter when compared to the vote to The vested interests, to the manufacturing interests of this country, by way of increased tariffs. All this was on a special plea of "Canada first." Within the breast of every man in this chamber to-day there is a "Canada first" heart, a heart that beats first

for Canada. I was not born in this land; I was bom in old England. I did not come here until I was thirty years of age, but I will yield to no man in my love for this Canada of ours. I have good reason to love it. It is twenty-seven years ago to-day that I passed for the first time a few miles south of Ottawa. I think the Canadian Pacific at that time ran some thirty or forty miles south of this city; at any rate, we did not enter Ottawa. I know this country has been for me and mine a land not only to have been desired before we came here, but in which we have been glad to find our home during the last twenty-seven years. We yield to no one in our love for Canada, but we say that in the matter of how best we may serve the Canada we love, there is a difference of opinion between us. Our friends to your right, Mr. Speaker, think we best serve Canada by having a very high tariff wall that will close out the manufactured goods of other countries. I had thought of a comparison I was going to use, one that had already been used, a tariff like unto the Chinese wall, suggesting not so much height, as mass, impassability. But I think the illustration that was used by another hon. member was a better one. He used the term "as high as Haman's gallows." May I remind the house of one or two facts in connection with that tall structure that has come to be known as Haman's gallows? The idea of building that gallows was conceived by a great man who might justly have been called the Hon. Mr. Haman.

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March 23, 1931


We know he was honourable because he enjoyed the confidence of his king. He built this structure with three objects in view. The first was undoubtedly to benefit his country; the second was to. elevate himself, and the third was to eliminate his rival. I need hardly remind hon. members that in his design he was at first more or less successful. He succeeded in erecting the structure and at first it seemed as though all were going well. His progress was forward and upward, but when he reached the summit of his career, the pinnacle of success, he experienced a very sudden drop, with a very abrupt termination. The result was an end to all his schemes and a further result was the elevation once more of his rival to a position of power. I do not think it was very kind of the hon. member on the other side of the house to suggest that the high tariff structure of this country bears a resemblance to the structure known as Haman's


The Address

Mr. Butcher

ister for making that statement. I assume he came in contact with people who are not aware of existing conditions. I was also very-much surprised to hear the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) say that conditions were bad only in spots and that they might be much worse. Probably his statement is due to the fact that he has been sitting in his well appointed office in the city of Regina and has not come in contact with the actual sufferers. I notice further that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir), a farmer from a farming constituency, is reported to have given an interview to a newspaper in Saskatoon wherein he stated that he had had no complaints from his constituents. I would like to tell hon. members that the Minister of Agriculture is respected by all the farmers and townsmen throughout the district in which he lives. He is very popular, but I think he may expect a little criticism when he returns to his constituency. Shortly after the interview which he is reported to hace given I was passing through his constituency and happened to be sitting opposite four farmers who were discussing conditions in the west. I heard one of them say, "Well, we will have to give the Hon. Bob"-I suppose they were referring to the Minister of Agriculture,

"a talking to when he returns to the west." As a matter of fact there is tremendous hardship in western Canada. Some hon. members on the opposite side of the house seem to think that we cannot talk about anything else but those hardships. It may be that we are not conversant with the conditions of the farmers in eastern Canada, but we do know of the suffering of those who live in the west.

I would extend an invitation to any hon. gentleman on the other side of the house who may be disposed to visit the west on the understanding that he adopt one of two methods which I am about to suggest. In the first place we might leave Winnipeg, having met at the Fort Garry hotel. From the hotel we would go to the station and board a pullman car. We would choose our companions, and upon reaching Regina would stay at the Hotel Saskatchewan. At Calgary we would stay at the Pailiser, and in Edmonton at the Macdonald. Having completed our journey we would return to Winnipeg and stay at the magnificent Canadian Pacific hotel. Having taken such a trip we would be justified in saying that there is no hardship in the west. We would meet a few of the wealthy people and our impression would be that there were no

(Mr. Butcher.]

complaints from that part of the country. There is a second way of travelling, however, which might leave a different impression. Instead of travelling by pullman from Winnipeg we might go back to the smoking or second class car and sit with the men who work on the land. We would travel with those men rather than with our wealthy associates, and we would not be long in learning that conditions are much different from what we had originally supposed. We could visit the district in which I live and would find farmers who have laboured from twenty to twenty-five years and are to-day bankrupt. One of the hon. members who spoke a few days ago-I have forgotten the constituency from which he came-stated that the men who went west from his constituency were the lazy ones. I think if that hon. member were to visit the constituency of Last Mountain he would find the contrary to be the fact. In that district there are many men who have worked hard for years and years and have nothing to show for their labours.

I would like to say a few words on behalf of these farmers and with that in mind I refer to the following paragraph in the speech from the throne.

The present situation has emphasized the. necessity of effecting a reduction in the costs of production and marketing of the wheat crop and of providing more stable markets, as the welfare of all parts of Canada is involved in satisfactory returns being received by the grain growers.

I believe there is nothing more true than the last sentence in that paragraph. Undoubtedly the welfare of all parts of Canada depends upon the satisfactory returns received by the grain growers. In that connection I refer to an editorial which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on December 16 last. This article refers particularly to the necessity of finding a market for our grain, and is as follows:

And it cannot be too emphatically stated that it is not merely the livelihood of the people directly dependent on the land-there are at least half a million of them-that is in peril. Involved almost equally, though not so directly, are the much larger number of people engaged in every conceivable line of endeavour, who live by serving these people on the farms whose future is now in question: Workmen in eastern factories, railway men, commercial travellers, employees of every kind of distributing agency, dealers in every sort of goods in general demand, professional men, school teachers. Investors-not only those who are direct creditors, but nearly everybody who has money invested subject to market risks-are in danger of suffering heavy losses. We are all in the boat that is labouring in the heavy seas.

Unemployment Relief Tuesday, March 24, 1931

Nothing more true has been said concerning the situation. But hon. members have the right to ask me: "What do you propose?" I have been rather struck by the fact that hon. gentlemen on the other side have complained more than once that we are not making suggestions. Of course not. Why should we? Our friends opposite have said that they know the remedy and are going to apply it; they know exactly what to do and they are going to do it.

I was very much struck by this sentence in the speech from the throne:

The present situation has emphasized the necessity of effecting a reduction in the costs of production and marketing.

What are some of the things that enter into the costs of production? The high cost of implements has already been referred to. Then we have the high cost of heavy machinery such as tractors and separators, high rates of interest, and high freight rates. I may be asked what I would propose should be done. Well, I think it would be wise for the government to do what has already been suggested by the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Bowman). I think he gave us a splendid address. He expressed the view that it would be wise for the government to investigate implement prices and see whether they should not be reduced. In my opinion these prices should be reduced. I think also that the prices of tractors, separators and threshing machines should be reduced to something approaching parity with the price of wheat. Freight rates have already been referred to; they too might well be reduced. While there is a flexible shield for the protection of the manufacturer against the winds of adversity, and while large corporations, such as the railways, are assured a certain standard of profit, yet the farmer is not protected at all against the cold east winds. I would suggest that the government advise those who are responsible for the prices of farm implements and heavy machinery, the high rates of interest and high freight rates, that unless those prices and rates are reduced they will not continue to receive the protection which they now enjoy.

But, Mr. Speaker, I feel the hour is approaching when hon. gentlemen want to see the house adjourn, and therefore I will bring my remarks to a close, although there are other matters that I should like to have discussed.

On motion of Mr. Cowan (Long Lake) the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Guthrie the house adjourned at 10.55 p.m.

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