Mr. H. R. FLEMING (Humboldt):
Mr. Speaker, I do not think the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. Hyndman) has been very fair to the farmers of western Canada. Surely the farmers of western Canada were not responsible for the grasshoppers; surely they could not help the rust or the drought, and many other disadvantages from which they suffered.
The budget, sir, presented as it has been to the house, with all proper dignity and due regard to its importance, offers an opportunity to every member of this parliament to register on behalf of the Canadian people his endorsation or otherwise of the soundness of its principles, which are calculated to lift the people of this country out of such a financial depression as has heretofore not been known in its history. It is one period when parliamentary discussion transcends the plans of party considerations and moves into the higher realm of national duty.
With this necessary preface to my discussion of the budget, I am glad to make this my first contribution to debate in the House of Commons. I should be lacking in my duty to my constituents did I not rise at this time and give expression to the sadness and sorrow which I know is theirs in the passing of His Gracious Majesty, the late King George the Fifth. The citizens of the constituency of Humboldt take second place to none in their unswerving loyalty to Canadian institutions. Racial differences have never disturbed the serenity of its public life. The diversity in the complexion of its representatives for the past thirty years is surely evidence of a breadth of view and a tolerance that could be emulated by other sections of this dominion. In the late Doctor Neeley, whose eloquence rang through this chamber on many a momentous question, Humboldt sent you a man thoroughly representative of the best in Canadian citizenship. When Union government was formed and the exacting problems of the war and reconstruction called for men with experience along these lines, Humboldt sent you the late Colonel Lang whose war record was of the highest; when peace was restored and domestic issues assumed the ascendant, and when a wave of progressivism or advanced liberalism swept over the prairies, we sent you C. Wallace Stewart, who made a splendid contribution to the problems of that day. In 1925 Humboldt sought out and obtained in Mr. Albert Frederick Totzke the man with the necessary business experience to cope sanely with the problems not only of the depression period but of the wildly speculative days that preceded it. It is therefore with diffidence and some apprehension that I approach the task which Humboldt expects of me, namely to carry on the torch laid down by my predecessors, and emulate, so far as in me lies, their high ideals of service to my constituency and my country.
In these new and yet strange surroundings I find one steadying and directing force around which seems to revolve all the activities of this house, and which has impressed me most profoundly. It is the authority which is vested in your office, Mr. Speaker, and which makes for order and decorum in our deliberations. That you were the choice of the house to assume this great responsibility is your guarantee that your authority will be respected, and in expressing my satisfaction that the execution of this authority has been placed in such able hands, I pledge you, on my own behalf, my fullest cooperation in your efforts to discharge your duties in a fair and impartial manner.
The Budget-Mr. Fleming
To those, Mr. Speaker, who sat in the last parliament and in the one preceding it, and who were returned to the present one, you have seen demonstrated in the last fifteen years the boon of democracy and the efficacy of democratic institutions. You have seen the policies which you advocated accepted, and whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative, you have seen them rejected in turn by your constituents, who in all matters that pertain to the administration of our common affairs are the court of final appeal. With that as a safety valve, the system of party government has long since been accepted as the best medium through which to conduct public affairs. The great majority, Mr. Speaker, of the electors of Humboldt constituency apparently decided that the administration of their affairs and of this dominion at the present time should be entrusted to the party of lower tariffs, and that the government should be led by the man who has the Liberal conception of Canadian nationality and who at the same time is prepared to place her international negotiations upon a higher plane than that of commercial bargaining. To recognize that we have such a man in the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) and to pay him the tribute that is his due, cannot be interpreted therefore as narrow partisanship. In his budget speech he says:
Canada cannot give everything to-day and bargain to-morrow, but Canada can, and this government does, give to-day to empire countries, such concessions as will, I am sure, be accepted in the spirit in which the British preference was conceived. In this spirit this government, since coming into office, has seen to it that unnecesary impediments to interempire trade have been removed, that vexatious restrictions have been lessened and that arbitrary regulations have been altered or abolished. It lias interested itself in the increase of interempire trade both by imports from the empire as well as exports to the empire; and under to-day's resolutions it proposes easier access to this country for certain empire commodities. The proposed reductions in the British preferential tariff are in no sense elements in a bargain. Concessions they are, both to Canadian consumers and to British producers, but concessions made in the firm belief that only from mutually advantageous exchange of commodities can come that common benefit in which should lie both the origin and the objective of intraempire trade arrangements. Canada knows full well that Great Britain, when the day of conference comes, will not be unmindful or forgetful of Canada's past record in the matter of preferential treatment in this market for British products-a record crystallized to-day in the fact that close upon seven hundred items in Canada's tariff schedules, practically half the items in the entire list, have against them the word "free" in the British preferential column.
It is said that one of the secrets of Napoleon's military success lay in his capacity
to choose competent generals, and the same has often been said of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who, in forming his first government, surrounded himself with a "cabinet of all the talents." The force of this example would not of itself be sufficient to account for our leader's success. There must have lain behind it a native political astuteness; for, lookifng over the men who occupy the treasury benches in the house to-day and comparing them with any group of men who have preceded them in a like position, no one will deny that, in background, in citizenship and in achievement, they hold second place to none. Who could have brought more credit to Canadian statesmanship than the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) and Senator Dandurand at the world court? Who could have made a more substantial contribution to Canada's economic prosperity than did the Minister of Finance in his famous May day budget of six years ago, and than he did when he presented another May day budget this session; and who in their respective spheres could have any fairer record in public achievement or private accomplishments than the former premier of Saskatchewan, the present Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner)?
And what has been said of these men can be aptly applied to the others who hold portfolios in this administration. What the Prime Minister did in selecting his lieutenants in the government, he did with equal efficiency on two previous occasions. Whether he will accomplish all he has planned and all that he wishes for this land which he loves and serves so well, will not debar him from a place in history equal to that of any man who has filled this high post. The Prime Minister's is a leadership that is indigenous to the soil from which have sprung the cardinal principles of Liberalism. It is a leadership provocative of initiative in thought and action among his followers, a leadership which welcomes independent views on the many problems which are pressing for practical solution. It is a leadership which recognizes the political principle enunciated by Edmund Burke over a century ago, a leadership which would call out, from the more circumscribed affairs of constituency interest, the best in both thought and judgment that the representative is capable of giving in the broader field of national affairs. It is a leadership that goes further in encouraging us to study not only national problems, but international issues. It is a leadership that expects us to bring to our discussions and our deliberations the most advanced views on every question pertaining to the nation's welfare. The problems which prior to the great war were national
The Budget-Mr. Fleming
only in scope have now become international in their ramifications, and the world situation to-day, complicated and intensified as it is by European involvements of the past few months, calls for the greatest circumspection in legislation from within and in negotiations from without. In international negotiations thus far, the leader of the government has demonstrated that he is alive to the requirements of the times and will proceed in a manner that will enhance the standing of this country abroad and inspire confidence at home.
The Washington treaty was a consummate piece of work-a work of high diplomacy and masterly statesmanship. The depression, born of the economic disintegrations of the late war, has brought us a new problem-the problem of the individual. We have always had problems of state, problems which we felt were matters that could be adjusted by legislation, problems that were therefore impersonal in their application; but it was not until the intensive nationalism which has been developed by the war spirit rendered impotent the most generous impulses of the League of Nations that we came to realize that if a start in the direction of real reconstruction were to be made, we had to get back to fundamentals. We had to get down to the individual and the things which motivate him in his relations with his fellows. State control, without realizing it, had gone too far. The right of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the highest sense was being more and more disregarded. Society was becoming mechanized to a point Where the freedom of the individual was being restricted and in some cases infringed upon.
In the new era of exaggerated state control, the initiative that went with individual enterprise is gradually disappearing, and with it the dignity that goes with personal responsibility. Men and women aTe to-day saying to all governments: "You have taken over the direction of most of the things which before we had in our own control, or you have done worse in allowing these things to get into the hands of selfish interests. Why should we be further concerned with the things which you call economic interests? You have created a situation by the infringement of our rights. It is your business, therefore, now to do for us what we could otherwise have done for ourselves." It is that state of mind which has given us this new problem. It is that attitude which is swelling the ranks of the unemployed, created in the first instance by the erroneous policy that restriction of trade would lower the cost of
living and increase the purchasing power of the dollar.
In advocating the restoration to the individual of these rights which are his, I am not advancing a new theory. It is philosophy that is as old as Christianity itself. Man, by his veiy nature, by the dignity which his God-given faculties impose, and the responsibilities which his station and purpose in life demand, must be given a dominating place in the scheme of things, and so I hold it is the duty of government to reorientate the relationship which now exists between man and his economic environment, and to establish upon an unassailable basis the sanctity of human rights. Just how that is to be done is the problem of this government and of this parliament, with honest men sent here to help solve the problem. I have no quarrel even if men differ in their ideas as to the treatment of our national ills and in their estimate of the-efficacy of proposed remedies. A solution will be evolved by calm and rational discussion, but. with propagandists and designing theorists I have no patience. Any doctrine that would set lawful authority at defiance is fundamentally wrong; and yet that doctrine has permeated the minds and inflamed the hearts of hundreds of our unemployed and set them trekking across the country from capital to capital in search of relief. The unrest which naturally results from long periods of enforced idleness is not in itself a matter seriously to disturb us, but the rancour which is fomented by an organized band of agitators, directed and financed from communistic centres such as Moscow, is in my judgment, a matter which should give us grave concern.
In the broad Canadian outlook and the optimism for the future which this budget manifests, I am in hearty accord. It is to be hoped, however, that the almost unanimous endorsement of such a sane and sensible policy will breach the void between the producer and the consumer, and will still forever the voice of the sectionalism the man who says that the harmonizing of these two interests defies solution, so long as we have a west, where agrarian interests dominate, and an east where the industrial position must be conserved. Next to the socialistic crank who would destroy our national integrity, the greatest enemy to national harmony is the sectionalist who would divide us on geographical grounds.
With a railway problem that has thrown the whole financial structure out of plumb, a marketing problem that has so far baffled our experts, a trade problem with wide international implications, and an employment problem that most vitally affects the well-
The Budget-Mr. Fleming
being and the happiness of our people, we have before us a task that calls for the greatest patience, the greatest skill and the greatest resourcefulness, a task to the accomplishment of which I feel certain the government is equal, provided the effort is a united one, wholehearted and determined. If I judge aright the temper of the Canadian people to-day, it will brook no delay in the handling of these matters. In this monumental task there is no place for political recrimination, no time even for criticisms of those who tried and failed. I do not think we should harbour any feelings of illwill towards hon. gentlemen opposite, or feelings of resentment because of their failure when in office to overcome our difficulties. I think the great issues should be approached in a spirit of cooperation, forgetful of any acrimony that may have been engendered in the heat of a political campaign. It is in no spirit of pessimism that I make these observations. They are suggested, perhaps, as much by self-interest as by public duty.
The appeal for good will in the solution of our domestic affairs I would extend to the wider one of international negotiations. Experience has proven that you cannot blast your way into the good will of others. Good will in international dealings, like good will in human relations, rests upon mutual confidence and respect. It is something which has to be cultivated and won by an approach obviously prompted by motives that are above suspicion. I am not impracticable, therefore, when I say that cultivation of good will is a step which should precede any efforts to engage in commercial bargaining. One envoy bearing messages of good will to the people of another nation will in my judgment accomplish more than a coterie of trade experts armed with statistics and obviously commissioned to drive the hardest bargain possible. Again let me quote from the budget speech, at page 2390:
As a gesture of good will and an earnest of intention to widen Canadian trade with the Irish Free State, reductions in duty, to be applicable under the British preferential tariff only, are proposed on certain products peculiarly identified with the Irish Free State and requested by that country, namely, stout, prune wine and Irish poplin.
I am not saying that in such dealings we should allow such things just to happen; I am merely indicating what I consider the most logical and diplomatic way to proceed in any efforts that may be made to extend our commercial relations with other nations, when a feeling of distrust already exists. The success already achieved under this policy is evidence,
I think, of its efficacy and of the wisdom of extending it to many other nations, offering opportunities for trade. There is much in the force of example, and I am confident that other nations seeing the advantage of this policy will adopt it also, and from that will follow a breaking of the commercial stalemate and a solution of that world problem, the legacy of the great war.
I might follow those who have preceded me in the field of figures, Mr. Speaker, and proceed to analyze the trend of business from comparative statistics, but on this, my first attempt to speak on the floor of this house, it seemed to me that I should attempt only to offer for your consideration a few saving principles consonant with Liberal philosophy. I leave the statistical task to those who may have a mathematical complex, and whose minds move more naturally in that orbit.
I intend, sir, to vote for the budget. Some say it does not go far enough; others say it goes too far. Some say it is dominated by the big interests; others say it is intended1 to please eastern Canada. But after careful study I think it is the best budget that could have been brought down. I have no hesitation in saying that the people of my constituency trust and always have trusted the Minister of Finance, and that trust has been justified in the reduction in the duty on agricultural implements from 25 per cent to 7-| per cent and the reduction in the intermediate tariff on gasoline from cents to one cent. I have every confidence that after such a fiscal policy has been in operation for a few years the old Tory "whisper of death" will disappear, and from the very furrows of this Canadian land the rural rustics will produce the murmur of life.
Let me close with the words of Lord Morley:
We must not judge human institutions by the white light that blazes in Utopia. Allowances must always be made for the frailty of mankind. Believing, as I do, in the capacity of democracy to rule, I shall record my vote and record it for the Liberal cause for one reason only-history and the present facts tell me that Liberalism is the one hopeful political cry in the world to-day, carrying with it a note which still rings true in the time of many delusions.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE