Mr. MATTHEW ROBERT BLAKE (Winnipeg North) :
Mr. Speaker, in rising to offer my contribution to the debate on the Address in reply to the speech from the Throne, I wish to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion on the excellent speeches delivered by them on this occasion. I wish also to congratulate our Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) on his elevation to the high office which he now holds. As he is an honest man and one who is not fishing for compliments, I do not think he will suffer in any way by reason of the lack of deference shown by the hon. member for Chambly and Ver-cheres (Mr. Archambault) in his failure to congratulate him as other hon. members of the Opposition have done. I am satisfied that when history records the present period the work of the right hon. gentleman who now fills the office of Prime Minister will rank equal with the best achievements of his predecessors. This Government has been subjected to undue, unjust, and unwarranted criticism by many in this country during its term of office; but while that criticism is subsiding in the country in the light of the work of the Government, we cannot say that ma-
terial help in alleviating the present unrest has been contributed by the Opposition. The Opposition, as they did all summer, are still indulging in criticism and stirring up unrest in the country. In the old days, when over half of the population elected a Government, the majority stood behind that Government through thick and thin; and it did not matter what the Government might do or what measure might be brought forward, that majority supported the Administration unflinchingly. The shaking-up that took place in the forming of a new party in 1917 left every person free, independent, and unfettered to any party, and that being the case every one felt at liberty to criticise the Government. Hence a great deal of the present criticism. Fortunately the people of Canada are now settling down again. They thoroughly appreciate the good work which the Government has done and are beginning to applaud with much enthusiasm the splendid deeds which it has wrought. One outstanding issue, as has frequently been stated on the floor of this House, was presented in the pre-election platform of the Government-the vigorous waging of the war and the reinforcement of Canadian troops at the front. No one can deny that the efforts of the Government along these lines were most successful, for at the conclusion of the war the Canadian division stood at the very spearhead of the Allied armies. That division was undoubtedly the finest fighting corps in the Allied armies at that time and made the best record of any division. The Government deserves the highest praise for keeping the Canadian army at the fop notch of efficiency, and for prosecuting its work in that direction so effectively. The achievements of the Government were, in fact, so notable that at the end of the war Canada could easily have laid claim to the full status of nationhood. I think it was the member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark) who said in one of his speeches when Parliament was meeting in the Museum building that no previous Government in Canada could lay claim to have fulfilled so many of its pre-election pledges within six months after the contest. The fulfillment of its pledges is one thing that must certainly be put down to the credit of the Government.
I believe it was the mover of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne who made the point that the trade of Canada per capita had expanded to a greater extent than that of any other country in the world. The expansion of Canadian commerce has not been slow and steady; year by year it
has advanced by leaps and bounds. The conditions in the country over which the Government have control must be excellent or such an unparalleled expansion of commerce would not have taken place as has taken place during the regime of the present administration. I think it can be truly stated that we have better industrial conditions in Canada than in any other country on the face of the globe. There is far less unemployment in this country and better relationship and a better understanding between capital and labour. We can only attain the progress that we should achieve in the next few years by continuing to maintain such good relations be-tweeen the two; labour realizing that capital is as necessary to its wellbeing as labour is as necessary to the wellbeing of capital. In the matter of industrial relationships this country is a model for the world at large. Our mercantile marine which has been so severely criticized made money last year, the hardest year it will ever have to encounter. This too despite the war conditions which shook up the trade routes and brought about the disorganization in the traffic that has been going on during the past few years. Our ships now sail the seven seas and sail them successfully. Our mercantile marine is a credit tc Canada.
In the re-establishment of the returned men no one can deny that Canada leads the world. In the Soldiers' Land Settlement we have trained, are giving loans to or have in training, some 64,706 men. Up to November 30, 1920, the number of veterans in communication with the Soldiers' Settlement Board was 100,000, and the number who applied for the privileges of the Settlement Act was 58,811. The nufmber of veterans qualified but not yet located was 21,975, whilst 916 were in training under supervision of the Board, and 1,444 had completed training. To those who were in training the sum of $165,150 has been paid out as pay allowances during the time they were taking the course. Under the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment some 50,788 men were under training up to February 19, 1921. A careful record is kept as to the disposition of graduates. These are followed up by department officers for a period of at least four months after discharge from training, and where employment has been constant for a period of four months after being placed in employment, the same is considered permanent and the cases are closed. Up to January 31, 1921, the following information was available with respect to cases considered
closed. The total number at that time was 26,891. Of this number 19,137 or 71.6 per cent were in employment along the lines for which they were trained; 5,604 or 28.84 per cent were in employment along other lines. The total graduates in employment represented 92 per cent. Of the remainder 205 or 1.76 per cent were out of employment; 844, or 3.15 per cent, could not be traced; 749, or 2.78 per cent, had left Canada; 233, or 1.94 per, cent, were ill; and 99 or .37 per cent had died. The number of ex-soldiers on the strength of the department for treatment on February 5th, 1921, was 6,231.
I shall not bother to give the figures with respect to the disabled men who have been looked after. That information is available at the Department of the Sol- ' diers' Civil Re-establishment at any time. But I am satisfied that in the matter of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Canada has led the world. She started her methods before any of the other Allied countries and progressed in these respects, with such rapidity and effected such excellent organization that men were sent from the United States and Great Britain to Canada to study the methods employed by the Department of Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment. Some 29,084 men have found employment in the Civil Service, making a total of 144,578 that have been looked after by the Government. It thus appears that nearly one-third of our army have been provided for in some way or other under the plans of re-establishment.
The provision of Soldiers' Insurance should not pass unnoticed. Under it soldiers can take out insurance without examination within a limited time. Canada leads the world too in the matter of payment of pensions. She is paying higher pensions than any of the Allied countries.
If the administration of this Government had not been so successful there might be some ground for the demand for an election. Hon. gentlemen opposite insist that the people are calling for an election but I have not heard anything whatever with respect to any such call.
The leader of the Opposition sought to make out a case against the Government where in reality no case exists. The tariff question has been made a political football for years and invariably at election time it is surrounded by a lot of camouflage. But really all are agreed on it. The speeches delivered during the West Peterborough election show the members of the Opposition to be in favour of reasonable protection. Even the leader of the Agrarian party is reported in one of his speeches to have pronounced in favour of reasonable and adequate protection. Although other issues have been raised at successive general elections the real big issue presented on every occasion has been the tariff question.
When the Liberals were elected in 1886 they reduced the tariff by .74 per cent. I find that when protection was taken off barbed wire and binder twine our Canadian manufacturers of those commodities went to the wall; and the only reason that cream separators, which were also made free, continued to be manufactured in this country was because they were being manufactured by Canadian branches of American institutions. If we had free trade to-morrow on all commodities, and two thirds of our industries went to the wall, Canada would soon regret having adopted the policy that has been put forward by the Opposition. However, I do not think the people have any fear of the Opposition ever putting their expressed policy into practice, because it is merely a platform to get in on but not to live by.
The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) said yesterday that the prices of agricultural products were fixed in the markets of the world. Of course, and that is why Reciprocity failed, because the people appreciated the fact that Liverpool set the price of wheat irrespective of our fiscal relations with the United States. Therefore the chief plank of the hon. member for Marquette falls down, for it would be of no benefit to the Western farmer in disposing of his produce.
The hon. member also mentioned that both provincial and Federal economy was a pressing necessity if we were to improve our financial condition. Well, probably we all remember the talk that the hon. member for South Winnipeg (Mr. Allan) would give in the corridors along this line. I wonder whether the hon. member for Marquette has recommended administrative economy to the Government of Ontario. Although the chief platform of the members of that Government when appealing to the province for support was Greater Economy, the increase in the debt of Ontario since they came into power has been alarming. For example, although $6,000,000 was spent on their roads last year, I am told my hon. members from Ontario that there is practically nothing to show for that enormous expenditure. But that Government seems to be going ahead with the same lavish expenditure, probably ac-
celerated over last year's, and I think my hon. friend from Marquette would be well advised to visit Toronto now the Legislature is in session and advocate greater economy to his friends there.
He also stated that we should do more trade with the United States. But I do not see where we would benefit by that increase. At the present time we are buying very largely from the States; for example, for the ten months ended January 31, 1921, we imported goods to the value of $743,707,196, or 69 per cent of our imports and on that huge business I am told we were fined on the average 15 per cent, representing the difference in exchange. One of the prominent officials of the provincial government in Manitoba said to me after hearing the Premier speak in Winnipeg a year ago that if we had free trade the Canadian dollar would have fallen to fifty cents in a week. The more trade we do with the States the more is our dollar held at a discount, so the less trade we do with them the better. I would advocate doing less with them. I think an embargo on all manufactured articles from the States until exchange rights itself would be a very profitable thing, for then we could not be fined as we are when we do business with them, although they admit that we are the best customers they have. A greater buying of home products would make for a better condition in the Dominion. If a farmer sells $1,000 worth of products off his farm, and in return buys $1,000 worth of material, he is not getting his debt paid off. The sooner we appreciate the fact that we must buy less abroad the sooner we would be in a position to pay off our debts. .
I have the figures of our imports for the ten months ended January 31, 1921. We imported from the United States $743, 707,196, or 69 per cent of our total imports; in the year 1919-20 we imported 75 per cent from the United States, so we are working along the right line, having already dropped down 6 per cent. From the United Kingdom we imported $185,817,499, or 17 per cent; in the year 1919-20 we imported 11 per cent, which is an improvement on our Empire trade. From other British possessions we imported $43,029,240, or four per cent; it was four per cent the year before. From other foreign countries we imported $103,034,785, or nine per cent; it was eight per cent the year before, so there is not any improvement there. The total imports amounted to $1,075,587,720. Our exports for the ten months ended January 31, 1921, were as follows: To the United States,
$491,075,856, or 45 per cent, against 39 per cent the year before, which indicates an expansion of trade along the right line; to the United Kingdom, $281,275,105, or 26 per cent-the year before the figures was 38 per cent, and the reduction is largely attributable to British exchange, which militated against our export trade with her; to other British possessions, $80,334,417, or seven per cent, as against five per cent the year before; to other foreign countries $221,959,676, or 22 per cent, against 16 per cent the year before. Our total exports amounted to $1,074,645,054, or almost balancing our imports. I do not see how the hon. member for Marquette can urge further trade with the United States in view of the exchange rate and the resultant disadvantage against us, especially when he admitted that the prices of farm products are fixed in the markets of the world and not in the States.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crerar) stated that he would appreciate a flat declaration of policy from the Government. Why die he not make one himself? "Last year wher the Prime Minister and the leader of tht Opposition were touring Western Canadf I remember reading an illustrated article in Maclean's magazine by J. K. Munro, and one of the illustrations showed the leader of the Farmers sitting at home calmly smoking a big cigar with a wide brimmed straw hat on his head; and that is where he sat most of the summer, instead of coming out and giving us a flat declaration of policy. I think he has changed his policy two or three times since he became the leader of the Agrarian party, and still he is not prepared to give to the people that clear expression of policy which he demanded from the Government, I do not see how he could read the previous speeches from this side of the House without gathering from them a flat declaration by the Government in favour of reasonable and adequate protection-the same as he is willing to offer himself, and the same as the Opposition at Peterborough were willing to offer. The trouble is there is only one platform and everybody is struggling to get on it.
I join with the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr. Henders) in pressing for an investigation into the grain dealing of the West. The report of Price, Waterhouse & Co., and the other reports we have got since on the elevators of there being something over 1,000,000 bushels of overages calls for investigation. It is admitted that the United Grain Growers and the various grain companies in the Farmers' organiz-
ation handled about 25 per cent of the grain of the West, and therefore they must have shared to a great extent in the overages which came from the pockets of the farmers. I know they are allowed a certain percentage of overages, but
those percentages could not have
amounted to anything like the amounts that were found in the elevators.
Whether these are the total overages or not, God only knows; they might have shipped out a great deal of it beforehand. When the leader of the Agrarian party organized the grain growers, it was for the ostensible purpose of giving the farmers the full benefit of the sale of their produce-to give them a better price than they had ever received before and to make sure that there would be no thefts from them in the matter of shortages of wheat at the elevator. It was recognized that in the country elevator in the old days the man who could steal the most was the most valuable employee. I would like to know, and I think the country would like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the grain business in the West is being run as accurately and as honestly and as properly as it should be. I want to press most strongly for an investigation. If the leader of the Agrarian party and his various lieutenants have nothing to hide, they will welcome an investigation and support the Government until that investigation is held. If, on the other hand, they have any fears in the matter, of course it will be their policy to turn the Government out with the utmost rapidity-that is, if they are able. I doubt very much their ability to do that.
The people are looking for performances, not for promises only. This Government has handed out performances along the lines I have indicated; they have not hesitated to do what they considered best for the country. I think it was Lord Randolph Churchill who, speaking to Viscount Morley, said: "You and Balfour believe in the solution of political questions." This Government believes in the solution of political questions; the Opposition believes in beclouding them
in pretending that the country needs an election, although there is no cry for an election at all. That cry is dying down, and everybody who has kept his ear to the ground, who has kept in close touch with his constituents, must know that-every member of the Opposition must know it.
The leader of the Opposition said that he heard everywhere in the West a call for a general election. I can speak for
Winnipeg, Mr. Speaker, and I can tell you where he heard the call for a general election in Winnipeg. The hon. gentleman issued a broadcast invitation through the press to all those opposed to the Government to meet him in Winnipeg, and then held a drawing-room in the Fort Garry Hotel. I suppose those whom he invited- that is, all those opposed to the Government-would include the O.B.U., all the agitators who might be found in the land, and a few disgruntled Liberals. One can imagine his lining them up against the wall, as a schoolmaster would his pupils, and saying to them: "Now, boys, what does the country need most? Say, 'A general election' ", and with one accord they cry out, "A general election". The leader of the Opposition did not hear from Premier Norris or his cabinet a cry for a general election. He did not hear from Mr. Edward Parnell, mayor of the city of Winnipeg, a cry for a general election. He did not hear from Frank Fowler, Isaac Pitblado or Isaac Campbell a cry for an election. All these were stalwarts of the Liberal party in Manitoba-from not one of them did he hear a cry for a general election. The only persons from whom he heard it were those opposed to the Government, which he picked up from every direction and invited to his drawing-room.
The leader of the Opposition has for nearly two years been obsessed with this idea of holding a general election and his becoming Prime Minister of this country, and that idea has become so thoroughly soaked into his cranium and into his system generally that he reminds me of some of the things which I have read in the Confessions of an Opium Eater. The Opium Eater says: "How came any reasonable being to subject himself to such a yoke of misery voluntarily, to incur a captivity so servile, and knowingly to fetter himself with a sevenfold chain?" The hon. leader of the Opposition, obsessed with the idea of obtaining power, feels that he should fetter himself with the sevenfold chain and that he should call for a general election. The Opium Eater boasts himself to be a philosopher. The leader of the Opposition puts me in mind of the old chap in the Taming of the Shrew who, when he found himself in bed, surrounded by luxury, and was assured that he was a lord, said: "And so I am a lord indeed." It is the same with the leader of the opposition; he thinks that he is a lord indeed, or is going to be as soon as he can get a general election. Last year many of his followers told me they did not want a general elec-
tion, and I do not think any of them want it this year. The Opium Eater also speaks about "creating an artificial state of pleasurable excitement." I suppose it is pleasant to the hon. leader of the Opposition to exist in a great state of excitement in connection with the idea with which he is obsessed, and to make big speeches in the House and throughout the country calling for an election. The Opium Eater also says "I do talk nonsense, not upon principle, but solely and simply because I am drunk with opium." The leader of the Opposition must surely be intoxicated with the idea of power and with the vision of himself on the pedestal as the leader of the country, or he would not talk the nonsense of a general election in the face of the general unrest in the country and the other conditions which at present exist. The Opium Eater also speaks in his dreams of foundations that were never to support a superstructure. That describes accurately the platform of the Liberal Party of 1919. He speaks also of getting into "An exalted state of irritability." Having regard to the last page or two of the hon. gentleman's speech as reported in Hansard, he must surely on that occasion have been in an exalted state of irritability. The Opium Eater also makes reference to his efforts to cut down the opium, and says that when the effect passed away he had terrible pains in his stomach. After the next general election the leader of the Opposition will find that many of his ideas have evaporated, and he will have these pains, too.
It has been said that the crucial defect in a politician is lack of fibre. Neither the leader of the Agrarian party nor the leader of the Opposition has had sufficient fibre to come out with a motion supporting his platform and laying down his policy. We on this side, during this session or at any time, would welcome any such motion on the part of the hon. gentlemen. If they have the fibre of politicians or statesmen, let them come forward and show the country what they stand for. Hon. gentlemen opposite, however, go from one constituency to another with a new story for each place; as the member for Halton (Mr. Anderson) has said, they were a veritable political Santa Claus-handing out something new in every constituency they came to. Mr. Gladstone called faint-heartedness the master vice. I think that faint-heartedness is a characteristic of both of these leaders, for neither has come forward with a motion laying down the platform of his party.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY