Mr. O. R. GOULD (Assiniboia):
Mr. Speaker, I wish with other members who have preceded me, to tender my hearty congratulations to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) who has brought his seventeenth budget into the House. I am minded to say that I believe just as great congratulation would be tendered to the hon. gentleman if he were now bringing in his fifteenth budget, for to me, and I believe to the majority of the members in this corner of the House, the last two budgets were a disappointment. I sincerely believe that, and I also sincerely believe that ninety per cent of the people in the country consider this budget and the last budget to have been disappointing, more particularly when they have in mind the great promises given to them in 1919 as laid down in the Liberal platform. I have been somewhat amused when my mind has gone back to the old House, that is, the House at the time of Union government, when our worthy friends who now occupy the treasury benches sat in opposition, and I have recollected the words of fire which emanated from them in denunciation of all and sundry things that the Union government did at that time, the promises, tentative and otherwise, that were held out and the -predictions as to the benefits that would come to the people of Canada if thev would only again repose power in the Liberal party.
We have now had for two years an opportunity of reviewing what these hon. gentlemen have done for the country since the people reposed confidence in them in 1921. Whether or not we are justified in looking back over history, back as far as 1896, perhaps, when my first recollection of political things in this country took form, I recollect very well the campaign that was carried on prior to 1896, the victory that was achieved by the Liberal party at that time, and the promises by which they achieved that victory. There is a great similarity between the tariff proposals then and the tariff proposals placed in the tariff platform of 1919. Very positive is it in the minds of the people who remember those incidents, that the tariff proposals of the Liberal party in 1896 were not carried into effect as was promised by the politicians of that date. According to the record of the last two budgets and according to the speeches that were delivered last year and those that have been delivered this year by hon. members opposite, which speeches, I must say, appear to me to be only apologies for their not putting into practice the policies which they presented to the country, we are right in assuming that it is their purpose to go back all the time on their pledges as regards the tariff planks in their platform.
I recall the elections of 1904 and 1908 when our western country was being opened up and the railway policies were dangled before the people of Canada, so that they in a measure might forget the action of the party after the election in 1896. Then we had the platform of 1911 containing what was known as the offer of reciprocity with the United States, and the Liberal party at that time had hopes that the people of Canada had forgotten. Evidently-and I point this out-although it has been said a thousand times in this House that the people of Canada repudiated reciprocity at that time, what happened is not, to my mind, any proof that reciprocity was the real cause of the defeat of the Liberal party in 1911; but most people who remembered that the Liberal party had gone back on their promises of 1896, took that opportunity of telling that party that they did not believe in the pledges they were making. The only recourse that the people of Canada had then was to place in power the Conservative party, which had been defeated in 1896 upon its tariff policy. In 1914. the war broke out, and for some years political conditions were disturbed. But again, in 1921, the people were appealed to upon practically the old platform of 1896, and by a very slender majority they said: "Yes, we will endorse
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the Liberal party in regard to that platform." In the meantime, however, a large faction had been created in Canada who really believed that the Liberal party was not constituted so that it could carry out the pledges of the platform laid down in 1919. Again I say that the last two budgets and the apologetic speeches made by the members of the government prove conclusively that those who believed the Liberal party would not carry the pledges of 1919 into execution, were justified, and I cite that as a reason why there are to be found at the present time sixty-four or sixty-five members in this part of the House.
Reciprocity is again held out in the budget speech of to-day as a reason why the .liberal party should be perpetuated in power. To me, reciprocity is a fetish. I supported reciprocity in 1911, and if the day ever should arrive when I have again an opportunity of supporting reciprocity, I promise now that I shall be quite prepared to do so. But in the meantime there is no excuse for the government to hide behind the fetish of reciprocity, and to let the things which pertain to-day go unchallenged and unwarranted. Every government speaker in this debate has been telling the people who live in the West and, indeed, people throughout Canada who have been proclaiming the truth with regard to agriculture, that we should hide the truth; that we are pessimists and so on. I maintain that if we are ever going to have a Canada worthy of the name, we must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and let the people judge for themselves. WThen we tell the truth, we wish to be heard, and to have remedies applied to the evils of which we complain.
I have often thought, as I have sat in my place in this House and listened to the speeches made by hon. gentlemen opposite, whether any of those speeches were in evidence when their platform was made in August, 1919. That was the year after the close of the war, and surely at that time hon. gentlemen opposite must have been perfectly aware of the fact that we were overburdened with a debt. They knew very well that if they were returned to power they would have to find the ways and means of meeting that debt. And in the face of that certain knowledge, what did they do? They gave us to understand that they would eliminate the tariff upon the implements of production immediately. That was one of the first things that they promised to do; they preached it incessantly throughout the West, and during the campaign of
1921 they emphasized the pledge that by this means they were going to bring relief to those who were suffering from an unjust burden. All hon. gentlemen opposite who campaigned in the West were very positive in this regard, but we had particularly a strenuous champion in that part of the country. The people of the West desired the reduction on these implements, because it was their belief then, as it is now, that the tariff in this respect weighs heavily upon every individual who lives in that part of the Dominion. So that when the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) made great promises of what his party would do in this matter, the people naturally listened with great attention to what he had to say.
I have many extracts from the hon. gentleman's utterances in the West; we all listened to the speeches he made in western Canada, in which he told us of what would be done when he came to Ottawa. Why, Mr. Speaker, we were led to believe, from the hon. minister's statements, that the tariff would disappear practically overnight. Yes, Sir, the Hon. Frank Carvell's scalp was to be put into his belt in a very short time. But we have not seen any results since the hon. gentleman came here. The other night, however, speaking in this debate he took the opportunity to give the Progressives in this part of the House a severe lecture, the while admitting that in 1901 he was going up and down the province of Saskatchewan, protesting against the enormities that were being practised to the detriment of agriculture. The hon. gentleman would have the House and the country believe, I suppose, that all those evils of which he complained so strenuously in those days are now utterly eliminated. He deplored the fact also that while he had entered the field of politics the present member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Hopkins), whom he mentioned as one of his colleagues in the early days, had no right to do likewise nor refer to the difficulties under which the western agriculturist labours. I wish to tell the hon. gentleman that while I was not working exactly in his company at that time, I likewise was working in the interests of agriculture, while thousands of others were doing their utmost, in their own small way, to try to bring to the powers of the day the disadvantages against which we were protesting. Those disadvantages to-day are as acute as they were at that time and I think it would be very much better for the Minister of Agriculture to stand up in his place to-day and endeavour, with U3, to fight
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those evils against which he spoke in those days, and try to have adequate remedies provided, rather than get up* and give curtain lectures to the Progressives who are honestly trying to remove the evils that are complained of.
I would ask the Minister of Agriculture, in all seriousness, this question: Would the
farmers, in the province of Saskatchewan, say, complain of the conditions to which reference has so frequently been made if those conditions did not in fact exist? The Minister of Agriculture of Saskatchewan has stated that 261 municipalities, according to the returns for the year 1922, showed an average tax deficit of $33 per quarter section. I stated the other night that it was $37; it should be $33. The same gentleman in giving evidence before the Agricultural committee last year stated that $90 was the average tax on a half section of land, which would be $45 per quarter section. This year he states that the sum of $33 out of that $45 is in arrears. I ask all hon. members, therefore, would any agriculturists in Canada, either in the West or in the East, desire to have a tax record against them such as that if the conditions did not warrant it? In the past, when we had the means of preventing such a thing, it never occurred. But these conditions are forced upon us, and when hon. gentlemen get up in this House and presume to lecture the representatives in parliament of the people of the West on account of circumstances such as these, they are, to say the least, speaking without any knowledge of the facts.
We are told to work a little harder and to go more into the raising of stock; hon. gentlemen kindly advise us to take up mixed farming and to do various other things. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is very kind of them indeed; but really, a man does not need to be told this sort of thing. I listened the other day to a lecture of this kind from the ex-Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Tolmie) who comes from a province where the rainfall is 112 inches per annum. If he came to Saskatchewan and visited the district in which I live, I think he would have reason to modify his remarks somewhat, for in the past ten years we have not had much greater precipitation than 10 inches per annum. We have not had enough water to water our cattle, and I have been in such straits many a time; on two occa-9 p.m. sions I was obliged to sell the whole herd of cattle because I could not find water to water them; and I had to sell at a sacrifice at that. It is all very well for hon. gentlemen to tell us these things, but I
think that we know best, who live in that part of the country, just the conditions that prevail there. We do not need to be told, either, what it is best for us to do. Under the conditions that we have to cope with, wheat growing must be the bulwark of our activities until such time as we can find enough water to ensure the profitable raising of cattle.
I have figures compiled by a statistician which show that there is nothing the matter with the West so far as the producing of wealth is concerned. A comparison of the exports of the various countries of the world for the year 1922 will reveal the fact that Canada exceeded by a considerable sum any other exporting nation. The nearest to the Canadian exporters were those of the United States; the figures in relation to that country showed a per capita export of $65, while it was $98 in the case of Great Britain, and 1150 in the case of this country. Why do hon. gentlemen stand up and tell us to work harder and save more? What possible ground have they for abusing us and concluding offhand that we have been indulging in extravagant expenditures? Let me emphatically assure this House that this is absolutely not so. I may tell hon. gentlemen here that I know a man in my district who some years ago had thousands of dollars in the bank, but who last year was compelled to borrow money from the banks, although his land and everything was clear. These conditions have been getting worse and worse gradually, and if matters do not improve in the very near future I am not prepared to predict what the outcome will be. Certain it is that when hon. gentlemen stand up and undertake to lecture us, notwithstanding that we tell the positive, the plain and the simple truth, their attitude is not likely to appease our minds or to produce that manner in us which gentlemen would like to display.