George Davidson Grant
Mr. GEORGE D. GRANT (North Ontario).
Mr. Speaker, in rising to address the House at this stage of the budget debate, I do not expect to say anything of a very novel character. But I desire to present to the House what I believe to be the opinions and feelings of my constituents on the subject of the tariff and such other matters as are properly the subject of observation. Having recently emerged from an election contest, which perhaps was not wholly unsatisfactory to the gentlemen who are seated around me on this side of the House, I may perhaps he permitted to voice the verdict of my constituents in this place. This Dominion is to be congratulated heartily on the splendid showing which our Finance Minister made in bis annual financial statement. Never before has our material prosperity been so great. I think the country is to be congratulated, not only on! the splendid prosperity which has attended our efforts commercially and otherwise during the past year, but it is to be congratulated on the fact that the government has evinced its determination to adhere to that sound economic policy which I believe lies at the foundation of our commercial success. Let me assure the members of the government that the determination they have announced, (which we never for a moment doubted), meets with the fullest approbation of the people of this country. There is no blinking the fact that during the past year or year and a half there has been a formidable agitation on foot in this country for the increase of our customs tariff, and practically for a return to high protection. That the administration has expressed its
refusal to accede to: the extraordinary, and I may say, selfish demand of a small section of the community, js a matter of satisfaction to the country at large. To my mind, the present was an especially inopportune time for starting an agitation for a return to high protection. This campaign has not only been quite formidable and aggressive, but it has attracted a good deal of newspaper attention. But, Sir, the endeavour to persuade our people that they can enrich themselves by taxing themselves I think will altogether fail. Whilst the great majority of our factories are employed, whilst they have more orders than they can fill, and are paying on an average higher wages than have ever been paid at any time in Canada, whilst our producing powers are enormously increased, whilst our purchasing power too is growing at a tremendous rate, surely I am right in saying that this is an inopportune time to change our fiscal policy. If I may be permitted to refer to the town in which I reside, I may say that there is in that town one of the largest carriage factories in this Dominion. I am told by those who manage that concern that never before in their business history have they had so many orders and never before has such success attended the management of that business. In addition to that, in the same town, there are building at the present time two or three large factories. I have never heard that the gentlemen who are interested in promoting these industries are appealing to the government for further protection for them, nor have I heard that they have embarked upon these undertakings with the idea that higher protection will be granted. I, perhaps, am right in saying that this agitation has been begun and fostered by a small section of the community. Let me express the hope, and I am sure that in this I am voicing the opinion, broadly, of the agricultural interests in this country, that no disturbance shall take place at the present time. Now, Sir, I would depreciate any antagonism between the agricultural and manufacturing interests. I do not know that there is any occasion for antagonism of that sort. These interests are so interdependent, that, broadly speaking, what injures one injures the other and what benefits one benefits the other. I subscribe to that opinion, and yet, who can impute blame to our agriculturists if they strongly express their opinion on trade and tariff matters, when they are face to face with these well organized and financially well equipped gentlemen strongly urging the adoption of higher customs duties* Now, in the recent by-election in North Ontario which, Mr. Speaker, you will perhaps allow me to refer to without being open to the charge of being vain-glorious or boastful, the fight was forced on this very tariff issue. My hon. opponent made that point strongly at one of his first meetings in liis campaign at Uxbridge and these were bis words :