Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)
That applies only to the
15,000 tons. The province has done something in that respect already. Let me carry the minister's mind back. Questions have been hurled across the floor: What would you do? What is your policy? The Minister of Public Works (Mr. King) devotes some minutes to a discussion of our policy, and a misrepresentation of it, by the way. I want to carry the minister's mind back a few years, when a corresponding situation did arise. I think it was in the year 1919; it might have been 1920, but I am very close to the time. Then, in order to relieve the situation in Nova Scotia-where a Liberal government was in power, and when if we had wanted to play politics we could have loaded the blame on the Liberal government in the way hon. gentlemen opposite are trying to do as respects the Conservative government-we did not take that course; we knew the only way to bring relief was to meet the problem of transportation. While we did not take the directorate by the neck and say to them: You must transport coal at a price fixed by us, we did say: You transport the coal at the lowest price possible, and the difference between that and the amount necessary to enable the coal to be bought we will make up. And we did make it up to the extent of many scores of thousands of dollars. By that comparatively modest contribution we kept those districts from hunger, and we prevented such a situation as has presented itself too frequently during the regime of the present administration.
Now, as I see it, this goes to the kernel of the whole policy of this country as respects coal, and other commodities as well of the same character and within the same category as coal. We are never going to solve the coal problem of Canada by standing timidly by and shiveringly asserting: We dare not put on a little more duty; we dare not put up a little of the freight; we dare not do anything for fear the United States will raise the big club against us.
I will not say, I have never said, that you can all at once adopt any means by which Nova Scotia coal on the one hand and Alberta coal on the other will be carried right into the very centre of this country and supply the whole need of Canada at once. I only know two lines on which we can proceed to widen the area, widen the circulation, of the consumption both for Alberta and for Nova Scotia. On neither of these lines has the government the courage to proceed. We must assist transportation; we must assist as
well by stronger protection for the basic industries of the country; and we can only do that, as everybody well knows, as part of a great general policy applicable to the whole production of the country. And it is because this government is tied and hamstrung in respect of general policies that it cannot meet the situation in respect to coal. What has the government proposed to-day? You say my policy is subvention. Is your policy starvation? The government sits helpless and silent. The Minister of Public Works says it is not the time to bring it up. May I ask when would be the time? When the men are in their graves?