Matthew Robert BLAKE

BLAKE, Matthew Robert, M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

Personal Data

Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
January 8, 1876
Deceased Date
November 21, 1937
physician, surgeon

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 13 of 14)

May 2, 1918

Mr. M. R. BLAKE (North Winnipeg):

Subtopic:   CORRECTION.
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May 1, 1918

Mr. M. R. BLAKE (North Winnipeg):

Mr. Speaker-, we are at war, and with the proverbial tenacity of the British bulldog, we are quite prepared to hang on until we have brought it to a successful termination. The big thing that confronts this Parliament, and which it was elected to deal with, is the prosecution of the war; how best that can be done is what should concern ns to-day. We can well recall for a moment the old songr

We don't want to fight but by Jingo, if we do, We've got the ships, we've got the men,

We've got the money too.

The determination of our boys to fight has been impressed upon the Hun more than once. There is probably no part of the line the Huns hate to attack more than the sector that is held by the Canadians. We have got the ships. The British navy is keeping the foe from our shores. The Minister of Marine and Fisheries in this House has told us that every shipyard in the land is occupied with a ship, and he promises to keep them all full; we are going to keep on building more and more ships. The hon. member for St. Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames) is somewhat afraid lest the United States will attain mercantile supremacy, hut I say it is not within the bounds of possibility that this (country should be possessed in the not far distant future of sufficient ships to carry her own lake and ocean tonnage. I believe we can do that, and probably just as well, if not better, with the present minister at the helm of the Marine and Fisheries Department than any one else we can find. As to men, we have a lot and are getting more. Our men are producing food, making .munitions, and fighting the Huns. They are rushing to the colours so fast that the Minister of Militia and Defence is beginning to look somewhat grave from his increasing efforts day by day. It will not be very long before we shall have our five hundred

thousand, and I am satisfied we shall have more than that.

I do not wish to drive any wedge between any of the parties in this House, but I do hope -to be able to cement and bind together the two great parties probably a little better than they have been united heretofore. After all, Parliament unanimously consented to the prosecution of the war; there was a time when we were all united, and there is no reason why we should not be united now. We should not make other people's sins an excuse for our shortcomings, and that old saying applies equally well to provinces as to individuals. We have heard from the Minister of Militia and Defence the number of exemptions applied for in each province, and if the hon. members who in the early weeks of this session indulged in such fiery utterances, so much so that on one occasion the hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. Lapointe) was inclined to regard it as throwing of mud. If they had exerted as much energy trying to remedy the conditions in their own provinces, they would have done more good than was accomplished by those exhibitions. First cast the mote out of your own eye before pointing out the mote in your neighbour's eye. Let me refer for a moment to last year's Hansard, page 5564, when Mr. McCraney, then the member for Saskatoon, was speaking of the very small concern the West had in the troubles of the East. He said:

We were very much stirred up in Ontario and Quebec over the Manitoba School Question and on election day Manitoba was the only province that gave a majority for the Conservative Government ... In 19'*5 I was in the West when the Northwest School Question was up under the terms of the Automony Act. We were not very much disturbed about it out there .... Most of the troubles that we get into in Western Canada are fomented ini Ontario and Quebec; I am glad that we live 1,500 miles away from both of those provinces. Ontario and Quebec have fattened on their religious differences and racial strifes.

It reminds me of a report on the Irish trouble many years ago, and which I think is reported in D'Arcy McGee's history of Ireland. A commission was sent to Ireland to inquire into the cause of all the trouble, and after much consideration they came to this conclusion and reported, " We found them fighting like devils for conciliation's sake, and hating one another for the love of God." I think that is about the state of affairs we are coming to. What we want in Canada is a united people, 'and I am sure we are approaching that ideal in this Parliament. The fiery utterances are falling

off and we are getting down to business. If we are ever going to make Canada the greatest country in the world, which I verily believe we have possibilities of doing, we shall not do it by fighting, but 'by a united effort. I verily believe that within the next ten years Manitoba will be the greatest gold and copper producing country in the world. The hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Mackde) claims that for Alberta. We shall have to wait and see. Winnipeg to-day is the greatest wheat market in the world. When I went to Manitoba ten years ago, before the boundaries were extended, if I remember rightly, only five per cent of the province was under cultivation. About five years after that the amount under cultivation in Saskatchewan was only equal to the road allowances; the fields were all untouched. When the West is producing twenty and probably thirty times as much as it is to-day, and with its minerals galore the Minister of Finance will have no trouble with trade balances; his only trouble will be how to get all the money in, and he will have to sit up at nights considering what is the highest rate of exchange he can conscientiously extract to settle these -old scores of to-day when the rate of exchange is against us.

I had the pleasure of visiting Three Rivers last Sunday with the hon. member for that constituency (Mr. Bureau) and he told me his constituency runs back to James Bay, and that it was settled for about fifty-five miles back. In the last ten years, by his efforts, forty-two corporations have been brought into the constituency, fve large pulp mills and two shipbuilding plants. The place is really going ahead at a great rate. In all fairness to the hon. member for Three Rivers, we must say that he has not been more pugilistically inclined this session than the average member, and if he continues to develop his constituency at the rate he has been keeping up for the last _ ten years, he will have a wonderful city and a wonderful constituency, and no time for fighting except for the rights of his constituents. I will not say that his city will rival .Montreal, but with its great water powers and other great natural resources, it will develop into a city that will be of no mean proportions, and one that Canada may well be proud of. Every member will find sufficient to do working for the benefit Of his constituency and for the good of his country at large without fighting on the floor of this House. The whole talk around this

building for the last few days has been how rapidly the men are coming to the colours in the province of Quebec.

I have not heard of any men in any of the other provinces lately falling over one another or breaking any legs in their rush to the colours. I think that every member of this House-I do. not say of the Opposition, hut every member of the House who has declared himself, has expressed himself as being entirely in favour of the prosecution of this war and1 will be only too glad when it is terminated. I am satisfied that when every member goes out from this House, with probably a bigger and better determination than he has ever had before to encourage recruiting, the response to the call will surpass our expectations. The people of Quebec, I am satisfied, have too much pride to take any second place to any other province when it comes to doing their duty. I am sure that Colonel Lavergne would be only too pleased to lead a battalion, and I would urge the Minister of Militia to show his good faith towards Quebec by making such an offer at once and to-day. I feel convinced, from what I have heard, that it will be accepted. I spoke a few days ago regarding France and Britain waking up, and I prophesied that soon Canada would waken up. It looks to me as if Quebec ever alert had first heard the morning tap upon the door, was already quite awake, and was going on with the business of the war with a determination unequalled by that of any other province at the present time. I want now to make another prediction. It is that before this House of Parliament meets next year the province of Quebec will lead the way in recruiting and show forth more men than any other province of the Dominion will in the same time. They have not had more exemptions in Quebec than in some of the other provinces.

Then, I want to say one other word regarding the process of securing men. With reference to the call which the Government has made, and' which takes in the agricultural class, I think the Minister of Militia and the Government will be well advised to call no more men from the farm where only one son is left. I know of one case in Manitoba, I think near Brandon, where there were four sons on the farm, all of military age, and from the Exemption Board all got exemption. I would call three of them, certainly, but I would say that one at least should be left on the farm. If a man owns his own farm and has no

help, he should be left on the farm too. Production in that way could still be kept up, and by closing down non-essential my dustries, which were spoken of in a debate in this House a few days ago, the extra men could be secured to maintain the forces at the front. Not in a thousand years would these industries ever do anything in the slightest to help to win the war while the men on the farm can do much.

I think the Government ought to give very serious and careful consideration to the question of handling these non-essential industries.

When we get the men we must have money to maintain them. The problem of money, like that of the poor, is always with us. That almighty dollar. How to procure sufficient money to prosecute the war is a question that has been considered by the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. A. K. Maclean). I consider that he did very well in his budget, but he did not go far enough. He is a very timid gentleman. I believe that every hon, member of this House is prepared to go farther, and would have gone farther, and I think the people were prepared for greater taxation, and wobld have readily submitted to it. La6t year three-quarters of one per cent of the people were reached, and now the minister hopes to hit eight per cent of the people. But the minister is only getting started. The people are in favour of prosecuting the war and they are willing to help to pay for it. That is the essential point. Some very considerable number of the people need to be wakened up to the fact that we are at war by having their pockets touched by this taxation. If there are any who are not prepared to do their part, and to pay their money for the protection they are getting from our boys at the front, they are unworthy of this free country and they should be made to pay.

We have heard a great deal about war profiteering, and the Minister of Finance has turned his attention in that direction. But let us take the farmer. He is. making a lot of money nowadays-wheat, $2.21 a bushel; pork, $20 to $21 a hundredweight; butter, 50 cents a pound, eggs, accordingly. How many of these men keep books and how many of them have an income of $3,000, which would be the limit for a married man, or even $2,000? Very few of them. Yet they are making money a great deal faster than they have ever made it before, and they are not being touched by this tax. I am satisfied they are able and willing to. pay, I have not spoken to one who was not prepared to do his bit in help-

ing the financing of this country. That must apply to every man who owns property. That perhaps does not apply to our western cities where real estate has had a great swing and where every man is holding ten, twenty, or thirty times as much land as he has any need for or can ever hope to utilize. There will he some hardship done under those circumstances if there is a direct tax imposed, but I would strongly urge the Minister of Finance to levy, through the municipalities a rate of say, five mills on the dollar, and in that way secure about $25,000,000 from this country. It is a debatable question whether it should be put on the land alone or put upon the land and buildings. A fact to be remembered in connection with the imposition of direct taxation of this kind is that the machinery is all intact to collect it. You can require the municipalities, when they are levying their own taxes, to levy five mills more, and turn it into the federal treasury. It is true that many of the cities are heavily taxed, but we cannot help that. That does not help the federal treasury, and that is what we are here to consider. Apparently the assessments in this country are so lacking in uniformity that it is impossible to get any very accurate knowledge concerning them. It is true that assessments in certain municipalities are very low while others are high, many being up to the full value of the land and three-quarters of the value of the buildings. Some represent half the real value of the property. It would be unequal taxation, but even an imposition of two mills this year would yield half that amount which I have named and that would be no small item. People who cannot go and fight should not hesitate to pay. If the people who stay at home gave up every dollar they make over and above what they need for a bare living and to pay interest, taxation and insurance, they would not be giving up too much. That is what the people may have to do yet-give up every dollar over and above a bare living, which would include interest, insurance and taxes.

If the people had been asked to do that, they might, with some show of reason, make complaint; but as what they have really been asked to do is such a small thing it is up to the people of Canada to do their bit in this way. If they did this they would still retain their lives, their health and their property when the war is over; and yet all these are being risked by the boys who are at the front defending them to-day. The people who are staying

[iMr. Blake.]

at home are not risking their lives, and even if they did what is proposed, the discrepancy would still be very great and very much in their favour. Is there any hon. member of this House who would shirk his duty if he were called upon to stake so much? Not one, Sir. Then if the members of the House would agree to make that great sacrifice, and if the winning of the war depended upon it, surely the people of Canada also would-and I think I am safe in saying they would-be prepared to meet that sacrifice, terrible though it might be. Would even that be too high a price to pay for victory, for liberty and foi freedom? I claim it would not. The soldier is working for a bare living for himself and his family and undergoing great hardships and privations. He is doing more than that, he is risking his life-and many of them have already laid down their lives. What they are putting into this war is the risk of their lives and a bare living. Under such circumstances should any one of our people who are staying at home in comfort offer one word of criticism of the war taxes which this Government is asking, except it be this: To some of them the taxation of war profits and large incomes may not seem sufficient. If some men have made five or six million dollars out of the manufacture of shells and munitions since the war began, they should be more heavily taxed, *and the tax should be made retroactive so as to take a share of their profits from the beginning of the war. A man who had made five or six million dollars in this manner might reasonably give up one-half of those profits to the Government and still have enough to make him happy; in fact, he should be happier because he would not have so much money to look after. I think the taxation of large incomes should also receive more careful consideration from the Finance Minister and from the Government. When a man's private income reaches the limit of $50,000, in my opinion we would be perfectly justified in taxing him to a far greater extent than is here proposed. And he would not suffer any hardship thereby, because $50,000 is a fair sum to live upon.

If the people of this country are honest with themselves, honest to their God, and honest to their country and to the great cause for which we are fighting, they will acquit themselves like men, and nobly and smilingly carry out their duty. At the battle of Trafalgar Nelson hoisted the signal "England expects every man to do his duty." To-day Canada is displaying the

same signal and calling upon every Canadian to do his duty. There was only one response when Nelson issued his order to his fleet, and there will toe only one answer, I am convinced, to the call which Canada is making to-day. Canadians by coming smilingly forward and" dropping their nickel in the hat," as Kipling said, will toe doing their duty and helping to maintain .their freedom unimpaired. If all the profits were given up, which are subjected to taxation, in my opinion it would toe a small thing in order to achieve victory. But if we fail to achieve victory, and if, in consequence, we should come under German domination, what would happen? Every man would pack his trunk and get across the line out of Canada, and every interest that he held here would be lost. It has been truly said toy a distinguished, member of this House that nothing matters but tihe winning oi the war. That is how we should look at this question, and at any further levies of taxation which may be necessary before this struggle is finally ended. Canada is only now beginning to realize what was iineant at the outset of the war when a declaration was made that we were going into this fight with every man and with every dollar. We have not yet yielded up the profits that are being made from day to day out of the war, let alone the last dollar. The pledge made was a serious one, tout I think the people of this country are thoroughly determined to stand by it.

I feel, 'Sir, that we should to a greater extent pay our way as we go. Many a man in the wild and woolly West 'bought more property than toe should have done. He did not pay for it at the time, which was bad 'business, and he is having his difficulties now. Our people should pay their way from, year to year and not leave a legacy of debt to posterity, to. their descendants in this country for years to come.

The Minister of Finance might have extended the scope of taxation in the matter of musical instruments so as to include pianos. The piano, like the talking machine, is pretty much of a luxury and might very well have been brought under taxation.

We have a tax on patent medicines, and the druggist who does a fair amount of business is kept busy licking stamps and applying them to bottles of Castoria for infants and to bottles of cough mixture for adults. I am not defending patent medicines, but there are some which a medical practitioner finds it necessary to recommend. For example, there is Castoria, which is just as

useful and as much of a necessity as milk for the infant. I feel that there should be a tax on all business dealings. The dealer, when a man buys a suit of clothes, he might well be compelled to collect a tax of one per cent. In that way all commercial dealings would be reached. If it is a fair thing to get after the druggist-and the tax on patent medicines has proved to be a hardship in many cases because when a man is taken sick he should have recourse to good remedies, notably essence of pepsin-why not tax other dealers, why not tax the boot sales and the clothing sales? A tax of one per cent, or even one-half of one per cent, would yield an enormous revenue and would materially aid us in the policy of paying as we go.

The war profits tax should, I think, have been developed to a greater extent. In the case of a man who is conducting an ordinary business, who has no war contracts and is only making a reasonable profit, the income tax should be sufficient for him. But the man who is making money hand over fist out of munitions and war orders, the man who is making money out of the calamities of .the nation, should be taxed to the extent of ninety or one hundred per cent. Undoubtedly in some cases his plant will only be scrapped when the war is over, but to meet that he can establish a sinking fund as he goes along, because he knows what will he the duration of his war contracts.

Now, as to the duty on farm implements. If a heavier tax were levied upon war profits the Government could, without difficulty, cut down the duty on agricultural implements by one-half and still leave the manufacturer a fair degree of protection. If I remember the figures, the sum of $987,000 wa3 collected last year in duties on farming implements. If I am not right in that statement, the Acting Minister of Finance will correct me.

The amount realized was less than a million dollars. Half that amount could have been easily sacrificed with a slight increase in the tax on war profits. The reduction would have pleased the farmer; it would have increased production, and it would still have left the manufacturer on this side very well protected, even with the duty he has to pay on his imported raw material.

The hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster) in his speech last night urged the Minister of Finance to meet the trade balance by a greater increase in our ex-

ports of raw material. I think if that bbn. member would have a talk with the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) the latter would tell him whether or not natural products should be sent out of this country unmanufactured. I am certain that the only way we can build up this country, despite our trade balance, is by sending out our goods manufactured; and when \ye have developed our natural resources, and are utilizing them to the fullest extent, then we will be in a position to talk free trade. I am a free trader, but I am not willing to commence to build up free trade until the country is in a position, as I see it, to adopt it. Iron is the big commodity that concerns the manufacturer most, and the Government would be well advised to pay very great attention to developing our natural resources required for the manufacture of iron. And when we manufacture sufficient iron to meet our own wants, and possibly some to export, and are able to compete with our friends across the line, then the manufacturer here will get his raw material at as good a price, if not a little better, than he can get it by purchasing it across the line. We will be in a position to talk free trade only after we have fully developed our natural resources. I do not say that the tariff might not be trimmed down somewhat. It might be an advantage if some lines were adjusted. But we did not come here to adjust the tariff; we came here to prosecute the war. I think this Budget as presented will be of much assistance; it would have been of even more assistance if we had made it just a little bit larger.

The member for St. Antoine (Sir Herbert Ames) made a great plea that part of their profits should be left with the manufacturing corporations, so that these might extend their business after the war. How many of these corporations extend their business out of profits? When they make extensions, it is generally by means of offering bonds or selling, more stock and getting in more capital; it is not done to any great extent by saving up their profits. I do not think that that matter is one to which the Minister of Finance should give very much consideration next year, because, as I said, if all profits were paid to the Government, and only a bare living allowed to everybody in this country, we would then be getting down to business, and even then we would not be paying as great a price as are the men at the front.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET.
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April 26, 1918


I think one very important point arises out of what the hon. Minister of Justice has said. A prisoner is put at work, and the profits of his work are sent back to his dependents. The Minister of Justice says that the product of his labour will be sold to these different departments of the Government. The man is sufficiently penalized, as well as his wife and family, by his being imprisoned, without further penalizing them by not giving them the best return that can possibly be obtained from his labour. That is a point tdat should not be lost sight of. These products, no matter what they are, should be disposed of in the open market, free to any person who will offer the best possible price, because the wife and children of that man have as good a right to be protected as any industry or manufacturer. I think these products should be sold, not only to the departments of the Government, but to anybody who will pay a just and proper price for them.

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April 24, 1918


If these two clauses are struck out, the usefulness of the Bill ceases. The manner of issuing the license is very important, and: the man who packs the hay should he entrusted with the power of grading it. He is there all the time the hay is being pressed, and he can very easily grade it satisfactorily. If he attempts to put the grade down too low, the farmer will attend to that. If there should be added- to this Bill a section penalizing the packer if he gives too high a grade, any difficulty in this section would be overcome. If the name of the packer or his license number, and the name of the man who produced the hay and sold it, were on the tag, there would he something Dy which to trace the hay should! there be any packing of straw or other objectionable

material. These two sections 340E and 340F, are the crux of the Bill, and the usefulness of the measure depends upon their retention according to the suggested amendment.

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April 24, 1918


Then make my amendment to section 340F.

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