The Canadian Government Merchant Marine was a policy barren, bereft and destitute of all reason, a policy which should never have been undertaken by any country at such a time, a policy which last year involved a loss to the country of $8,000,000. We have the ships; what are we going to do with them?
My right hon. friend in his address last Monday quoted a paragraph from the manifesto which I issued to my electors with regard to the tariff. The paragraph, or the part which my right hon. friend read, was correctly quoted, and I find no fault with his quoting it. What does my right hon. friend expect me to do concerning the statement that I made at that time as regards the tariff? Does he expect me to denounce it? If so, I am sorry I have to disappoint him; I have not the slightest intention of denouncing it, in whole or in part. The declaration which I made at the time of the election still stands; why should I denounce it? My right hon. friend says that it contains the principle and practice of protection. Well, if he wants to call his tariff a protective tariff it is no concern of mine. If some other person wants to call his tariff a uniform tariff, it is no concern of mine. If someone else wants to call his tariff a tariff for revenue-well, that sounds a great deal better to me, but the name itself does not captivate me. What kind of tariff, then, do I approve of? Mr. Speaker, a tariff is not a name only; it is not a dogma which cannot be changed. It is a policy which must be based on the requirements of the country; a policy which will as nearly as possible serve the needs of all; a policy which will build up, not one which will destroy. But before all it must be designed for the development of the nation and the needs of the people generally. That is my defi-
[Mr. Marler. 7
nition of a tariff which I believe could be put in effect. It is quite immaterial to me what name is given the tariff, because a name means nothing at all. It may be argued that it is 'impossible to please everybody. I agree to the extent that it is impossible fully to please everybody; but surely it is quite possible to try to please everybody. On the other hand, hon. gentlemen sitting angularly opposite have always gone on the principle that they should try to please only a few as regards the tariff, and that is what I object to in their policy.
When was the last revision of the tariff made, Mr. Speaker? In June, 1919, Sir Thomas White, then Finance Minister, declared that a revision of the tariff was long overdue. On May 18, 1920, the then Finance Minister was of the opinion that there should be a revision. My right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition also declared in Montreal last year that a revision of the tariff should be made. Revision is perfectly correct. Revision is required in the interests of revenue. It is required in the interests of the consumer; it is required in the interests of the country, because the country does not stand still; conditions alter, and those conditions must 'be met. To say otherwise would be absurd. In the Speech from the Throne last year there was the following paragraph:
My advisers are convinced of the necessity for revision of the Customs tariff. In order to secure the most complete information a committee has conducted an extensive and thorough inquiry, and has secured the views of all parties and interests in every province.
But was any revision made? Was anything done with the marvellous report which contained information sought in every province? Was the report itself ever brought down to the House? I never heard of its being brought down; I never heard of any revision being made. I did hear, however, of some additional taxes being imposed. And what happened when the administration was asked to bring down this report?, Sir George Foster, Minister of Trade and Commerce, on February 16, 1921, said, in answer to a request that the report be brought down :
I am going to ask him if he ever knew of a case where information gathered by ministers of the Crown for their personal information or to serve as a basis for their calculations respecting the schedules of the tariff was presented to the House in the form of a report.
That was the answer which was given in the House last year with regard to this
report. If the report was of any value, Sir, I do not see why it was not 'brought down.
I fail to see the necessity for secrecy as regards any legislation or any attempted legislation in this House. It seems to me that we here in this House are nothing more than a committee of the nation gathered together for the purpose of solving the difficulties of the nation. It we are here for any other purpose, my whole idea of parliament certainly falls to the ground. I do not intend to take up at any greater length the question of the tariff except to refer to one other point.
Those immediately to your left, Mr. Speaker, have been most persistent in attributing to the Prime Minister inconsistency in his tariff views. I might say that the lieutenants of the late government during the last election were most insidious in their statements as to the views of- the Prime Minister on the tariff. In Montreal they told the people just enough to make them believe that the Prime Minister had different views in different parts of the country, but not enough, fortunately, to make them vote for hon. gentlemen opposite. I have never doubted the consistency of the Prime Minister in his views on the tariff. He has always distinctly said, and he has said it time and again-he said it in this House only last Monday-that he would take the advice of the outstanding men in the Liberal party, and I am quite certain that he intends to follow that course. We have outstanding men in the Liberal party. We have the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) who himself made the Laurier-Fielding tariff, and I am certain that that tariff, subject to the revision which will be made by the present Government, will be satisfactory to many members on the other side of the House and the country generally.
My hon. friend from Centre Vancouver (Mr. Stevens)' questioned my views on the tariff, and quoted from the Montreal Gazette. The Montreal Gazette quoted certain of my speeches very well indeed, but let us say for the satisfaction of my hon. friend that the speech from which he quoted was reported quite correctly. It therefore behooves me to try and explain a little more fully to my friends immediately opposite what my further views on the making of the tariff may be. It seems to me that my hon. friends immediately opposite realize how we in Eastern Canada every day anxiously look at the papers to see how the western crops are coming on. We await news of the crop almost
with bated breath. Why? Because we know that if the western crop is good, business will be better, and that if it is bad, business will be worse. Any thinking man in this country cannot but recognize that agriculture is our basic industry, and that if agriculture is killed the other industries will also suffer; that it is no more to the advantage of these other industries to kill agriculture than it is to the advantage of agriculture to kill industries. On the other hand, my hon. friends of the Progressive party must realize that from the East and the industries of the East comes a considerable amount of capital and purchasing power. Does it not therefore follow that the interests of the East and of the West are bound up together, the one with the other, and that some common ground must be found which will in a measure suit both. Let us look at the situation frankly. Perhaps some ground will be found which, while not completely suiting both, will be fair and just and equitable enough to satisfy everybody. That is the ground we must strive to reach, and if we attain it, we shall bring lasting benefit to both the East and the West. I admit quite frankly that I am against unfair profits. I am against legislation which will make the few rich at the expense of the many, but at the same time I am in favour of building up this country by fair and open legislation.
I should like to say a word or two on immigration, because I look upon it as one of the most important questions before the country to-day. I believe that unless we procure greater population we cannot get over all our difficulties. While saying that I am well aware that the finances of the country call for the utmost economy, but I hope that in the matter of immigration the Finance Minister and the Government will be generous in their expenditure, and realize, as I do, that any amount spent will be returned tenfold. I do not want to be unduly critical as regards the immigration policy in the past, but when we realize the figures placed before this House a few days ago by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar), who stated that we should have a million more people in this country than we have to-day, it is perfectly clear that something must be wrong.
There is another point in regard to immigration which I trust the minister in charge of that department will consider. The regulations in force at the present time treat immigrants coming to this country as so much merchandise, instead
of as human beings, thereby entailing a great deal of sulfering on the weak; such rules, for instance, as that relating to the non-continuous journey, and the passport regulations. If the present regulations are continued or new regulations are put into effect, they should be made very clear and be made known to the immigrant at the port of embarkation, instead of at the port of debarkation, so that the immigrant before he comes to this country will know exactly what to expect, instead of learning it after he has landed and having to be deported, as has happened in a great many cases. I have listened with considerable interest to the remarks of the hon. member for Marquette to the effect that we do not want city dwellers, and I agree with him to a great extent. Our cities at the present time are pretty full, but at the same time I think exception should be made in favour of the deserving immigrant.
I have only one word more to say on the question of economy which, very properly, was referred to in the Speech from the Throne. I believe that with very few exceptions we should only expend what we can actually pay for. There are certain works which are for the good of the country, not for special localities. These will require to be undertaken, and the immigration policy of the Government should also be considered in a generous manner.
I apologize for taking up so much time but it seems to me that if we as Canadians would only realize what we have in this country and with sincerity would try and forward the interests of the Dominion we would have co-operation on all sides. With co-operation will certainly come unity of purpose, and with unity of purpose will come happiness and prosperity. Mr. Speaker, it has always seemed to me that we as Canadians have two great debts to pay in this country. The first debt we have to pay is to the Canadian nation as a whole, and that debt we can readily pay and discharge if we are only true to our own better judgment. The second debt we have to pay is to those men who went overseas and fought for us in the Great War. This we can pay also if we stand true to British traditions and perhaps make this Canadian nation the greatest in the British Commonwealth.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY