THOBURN, William

Personal Data

Conservative (1867-1942)
Lanark North (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 14, 1847
Deceased Date
January 23, 1928
woollens manufacturer

Parliamentary Career

October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Lanark North (Ontario)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  Lanark North (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 26)

July 13, 1917


A peculiar case was

brought to my notice yesterday. A family living in my county, father and mother, had five sons at the front, and these sons had been the sole support of their parents. One of the sons was killed, and one of the remaining four was a married man, consequently there was a separation allowance for his wife. Unfortunately the mother *of these boys died. The three remaining boys had not made any provision for assigning their pay. Consequently, the father received nothing. No blame is to be attached to the Militia

Department because no provision has been made for such cases. But this is the case of a father and a mother whose five sons, their only support, are in the army, the father being in poverty. My hon. friend (Mr. Bradbury) says they should get the assigned pay accordingly. But it appears that when they do not get separation allowances, they are not entitled to assigned pay. Appeal has been made to the department in charge of such matters, and a remedy will, perhaps, be afforded. Under present conditions, however, if special provision is not made to cover such cases, the father will get nothing.

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May 23, 1917


Are the consumers in the Maritime Provinces paying more for a barrel of flour than they are paying for a barrel of flour in any other country in the world?

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May 21, 1917


Is it a fact that the

pensions which are being paid by the Dominion Government are higher than those paid by any other country in the world?

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May 9, 1917

Mr. WILLIAM THOBURN (North Lanark) :

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I did not hear my hon. friend from Rouville this afternoon. I should have liked to have heard the course he has suggested that Parliament should take in this matter. I do not wish to say anything in reference to technical education to embarrass the Government at this particular time, because the one burning question with which we have to deal is this terrible war. But since this question has come up this afternoon, I wish to say that it is one that has puzzled me many and many a time. I have felt the need of technical education very severely in connection with the business in which I am now engaged. Just when and where to apply it puzzles me a little. May I put my difficulty this way: has our present system of education been the means of depleting the farms of agricultural help, and the factories of its mechanics? I would say candidly that it has. I shall never forget a statement made to me by a judge shortly after he had been appointed to the bench. He said that one of the most difficult things he had to contend with was the necessity of dealing with lawyers brought before him for debt. Would that not lead you to believe that our present educational system is depleting our supply of all kinds of mechanics and is over-crowding the professions? I want to give you the experience of the county in which I live. I cannot say that more than 5 per cent of the young men who went through our high school ever went .back to the farms or factories. Why was this the case? It is a problem that I cannot solve. I never could understand why a high school education should not better fit a man for work on the farm, and I know very well that a high school education would better fit him to go back to the factory. But they do not go back, and that is one of the reasons why I am puzzled to know just where technical education should be applied. Whether it could be imparted in our public schools or high schools. I do not know. At any rate, it has to be applied somewhere, because at present our educational system, although

it is said to be one of the finest in the world, is not supplying the farm and the factory with the help that they so much need.

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May 16, 1916

Mr. WILLIAM THOBURN (North Lanark):

I have listened with a great deal of interest to the discussion that has taken place with reference to shipbuilding. I must say that if there is any hon. member of this House who should try to dissociate himself from politics when he rises to speak, it is the hon. member for North Cape Breton (Mr. D. D. McKenzie) for I have seldom heard him address this House without dealing in pretty bitter partisanship.

In reference to shipbuilding, if I were to make the bold statement that hon. members from the Maritime Provinces do not deserve to have ships built, I think I should be only saying what has been borne out by their own speeches in this House. When

this question was under discussion a few weeks ago hon. gentlemen opposite disagreed among themselves as to the policy under which shipbuilding should take place. One wing of the party opposite wanted ships built under a free trade policy and another wing of the party wanted ships built under a protective policy. What Government under the sun could build ships to suit some hon. gentlemen opposite? As to free trade, of course, all hon. gentlemen opposite are not of the same opinion. The catechism of the hon. member for Assi-niboia (Mr. J. G. Turriff), for instance, is one which is based on free-trade wheat, although he knows well that there is no such thing and can be no such thing so far as Canada is concerned as granting free-trade wheat. Then, the hon. member for Guys-borough (Mr. J. H. Sinclair) wants ships built under a free-trade policy. The Minister of Customs has told the member for Guysborough that most of the articles of iron and steel that enter into the building of ships are admitted free of duty. In the interests of the great iron and steel industries of Nova Scotia, why should such steel as is manufactured in Nova Scotia be admitted into this country free so long as we have a general policy of protection? Why /should we discriminate against that great industry in Nova Scotia, which it 'has cost the Governments of this country a considerable sum of money to put in its present shape? I ask some hon. gentlemen opposite: What encouragement do they give to Canadian manufacturers to launch out upon new industries? What encouragement was given to Canadian manufacturers when they started to manufacture shells for the protection of our own. country? They were derided by hon. gentlemen opposite from one end of the Dominion to the other. How many bon. gentlemen from the lower provinces have engaged in the manufacture of shells or in- the manufacture of anything else, for that matter? If they want ships; if they think that the building of ships would be such a great improvement to their own part o'f the country, why do they not build some? Why do they come to this Government begging them to build ships for them? If -it is a profitable industry, why do they not engage in it themselves? The great trouble with many hon. gentlemen opposite is that they preach too much free trade to encourage any men. to launch into new enterprises. Nobody feels like investing in a new industry when

there is such a strong feeling on the part /Of hon. gentlemen opposite with regard to free trade. Let them drop those ideas and join in with hon. gentlemen on this side of the House in devising some scheme to encourage shipbuilding in this country. As the Minister of Finance has said tonight, you could not start to do this in a more unfavourable time than the present on account of the enormous cost of the raw material that enters into the manufacture of ships. I think it is time that some hon. gentlemen on the other side should look .at these questions from a different standpoint from that of finding fault with everything the Government does. One hon, .gentleman made the statement that if the Government were to come down with a policy designed to encourage the building of ships, their proposals would meet with the hearty approval of hon. gentlemen opposite. I doubt, however, if the Government could frame a policy to build ships or to do anything else, for that matter, that would meet with the approval of hon. gentlemen opposite.

Mr.W. F. CARROLL (South Cape Breton): Mr. Speaker, I am one of those who take a keen interest in the matter of shipbuilding. I am glad to see the subject before the House again, and I hope that the discussion to-night will bear some good fruit. I am sorry to hear the hon. member for North Lanark (Mr. William Thoburn) say that members from the Maritime Provinces do not deserve to get shipbuilding down there because in some few details in the matter of shipbuilding we do not agree. Some of us, he says, want ships built undeT free trade, while others want them built under protection. For my part, I do not care under what system, whether protection or free trade, ships are built; what I say is that this Government should do something to encourage shipbuilding in Canada at the present time. The hon. member for North Lanark says also that we on this side of the House are asking the Government to build ships. We are not asking the Government to build ships; we are asking the Government to do something to encourage the people to take up the business of shipbuilding. This Government and every Government in the past have done something towards encouraging industry in Canada. They encourarge industry by building up a tariff to protect certain manufactures-woollens and that kind of thing.

I suppose the hon. member for North Lanark finds no fault with that.

The time has come when the Government should do something to encourage shipbuilding. Some hon. gentlemen who have spoken on the other side of the House s.ay that any encouragement which might now be given to shipbuilding would not be well advised as to time, because ships which might be built in the neaT future could not be used to make up for the lack of shipping resulting from the present scarcity of ships. Let us look for a moment at that phase of the question. There is going to be a great change in this country after the war. In the first place, .all those who aTe at present engaged in the manufacture of munitions will have lost their means of earning a living. Two things will be affected by that. First, labour will be affected; the people who are at present engaged in the manufacture of munitions will have to look elsewhere' for work in order to support themselves and their families. Secondly, thousands of returned soldiers will come back to this country, many of whom will be able to take their part in the industrial activities of the country. They will be looking for something to do, and they will have to be placed. Another aspect of the case is that a great deal of our iron and steel is being used in the manufacture of shells. All that will be taken away and our steel makers will have to look elsewhere for a market in Canada. Railway construction will not be carried, on in the future on such a large scale as it has been in the past, and there will be no other chance for our steel companies to get a market for their steel.

Taking all these things into consideration, is the time not opportune for this Government to do something, to formulate some plan whereby shipbuilding, steel or wood, .would be encouraged? I think it is.

, The Minister of Finance has said that, if bounties on shipbuilding were given, they .would have to continue for a long period of time. There were people in this country, ,who, 12 or 14 years ago, thought that the steel industry of this country could not be built up within the space of a quarter of a century, that it would have to be bonus sed for that length of time before it could get a standing, first to supply the home market, and then to compete with other Countries in the foreign market. That is not correct. The steel industry of this country began to come into boyhood between ,1900 and 1902. It had reached such a state

in 1910 or 1911 that the Government of this country thought the time was ripe to remove the bounty, and they so acted. ,The bounties were removed, but the steel industry still flourished to a great extent, except in times of stress.

, Sir THOMAS WHITE. At the time the bounties were discontinued there was a protective duty upon steel and iron.

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