February 8, 1926


On the Orders of the Day:


CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. MACDONALD (Kings):

I desire to direct the attention of the government to a matter referred to in the following telegram which, Sir, with your permission, I will read. This telegram is from Souris, P.EJ. It says:

Can you bring to attention Minister Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment discrimination against returned soldiers m railroad snow fighting here; can supply concrete case of returned man with good war record and wounded refused work while four of one family none of whom saw service employed.

J. F. Sterns.

In view of the fact that the Canadian National Railways are entirely out of politics, why is it that in connection with railroad snow fighting and all other work on the Prince Edward Island railway no one need apply for employment unless he is armed with a recommendation from some Liberal committee or Liberal heeler?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT OF RETURNED SOLDIERS
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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Minister of National Defence):

If the hon. gentleman

will send me the names of the returned soldiers who are referred to in the telegram, I will see that communication is had with the railway authorities.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   EMPLOYMENT OF RETURNED SOLDIERS
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GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH

ADDRESS IN REPLY


The House resumed from Monday, February 1, consideration of the motion of Mr. J. C. Elliott for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his Speech at the opening of the session.


CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONALD SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Mr. Speaker, parliament met this

year under rather unusual circumstances. Those who were present in the last parliament will recall that in a House of 235 members the government had 118 members, the Progressive party had in their ranks 65 members while the Conservative party had but 50 and the remainder were, or were supposed to be, Independents. In the election which was held on the 29th of October last to elect representatives, not to 235 but to 245 constituencies, the government succeeded in having elected 101 members, the Progressive party 24, the Conservatives 117, and three Independents. It is easy to see that the situation was a most unique and unusual one ia view of the fact that the government attempted to carry on instead of doing what would be expected under such circumstances, namely, resign and ask His Excellency to call on the leader of the largest group in the House to form a government. This is no doubt responsible for the fact that we are to-day resuming the debate on the Address one month after its presentation to both Houses of parliament by His Excellency the Governor General.

It is well known that the Address as delivered by His Excellency is prepared by the government and is supposed to outline all the important legislation which is to come before parliament during the session. The debate on this Address, after it had been read, was not proceeded with for a week so that the government might ascertain in the meantime whether or not they would be permitted to carry on. It was quite evident that they could not do so without the support of some of the other groups in the House elected in opposition to them. They finally succeeded in getting a sufficient number of hon. gentlemen to support them when the motion of confidence was put to the vote and afterwards the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was taken up. That debate continued for some time and on January 28, my hon. friend from Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens), as the House was about to adjourn that night, asked the acting leader of the government (Mr. Lapointe) how long the government intended to protract

SOG COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Sutherland (S. Oxford)

the discussion, as speaker after speaker on behalf of the government had taken up the time of the House. As a matter of fact, members on this side had ceased taking any part in the debate and were ready to voce. The division was taken some time iater but not until some sixteen or seventeen speakers had held forth on behalf of the government. Some statements ,were made in the course of these speeches delivered on the government side which I felt at the time it was not advisable to allow to go unchallenged, and after the vote was taken on the amendment to the Address which had been proposed by my right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen), I moved the adjournment of the debate about midnight, fully expecting that it would come up again on the following day. To my amazement, however, the leader of the government did not see fit to proceed with the Address the next day but moved a motion that this House, when it adjourned after the conclusion of the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, should stand adjourned until March 15 in order that the government might reorganize, as he stated it was impossible for them to do so unless an adjournment were granted.

You will observe in the Address that the government intends to unite a number of departments and to reduce the number of ministers. The acting leader of the government on that occasion made it clear that it was necessary that every department should be represented in parliament by a minister, and it was with that purpose in view that he proposed such a lengthy adjournment. That was on the first day of February; this is February 8 and we are only now resuming the debate on the Address. Hon. members will therefore see what a most extraordinary session this has been so far, and the delay that has taken place has resulted altogether from the inability of the government to function. They now admit that they are not able to carry on and they ask for an adjournment of six weeks in the hope of being able to reorganize and build up their forces.

The Address was presented in the usual way and although it has been discussed to a considerable extent by hon. gentlemen opposite it has been held up by the intervention of the motion to adjourn. I shall refer briefly to some features of the Speech from the Throne, the most noticeable of which is, I think, an admission that things are not well in the country. After claiming credit for the advance in the trade in Canada the government proceeds to outline its programme for the session. It is quite true that our exports

have very largely increased during the past year and it is a hopeful sign in this great country of ours that some progress and development are in evidence in spite of the many restrictions which have hampered our people. The increase was largely agricultural; we have been favoured with a splendid crop and the prices, owing to [DOT] a general price increase throughout the world, have undoubtedly brought a good deal of money into circulation in Canada and improved conditions in that respect naturally followed.

It will be seen further on in the Address that it is claimed an effort is to be made to retain on the land our existing agricultural population and to encourage the return to rural parts of urban dwellers possessed of agricultural experience. It is admitted that these people have been going out in large numbers to other countries or, if they have remained in Canada, they have been moving into the towns and cities. Now the government claim they are to introduce legislation designed to keep at home those whom we have with us already or to bring back to the land those from rural districts who have gone to the cities and towns. In this connection reference is made to the value of the home market and the necessity for acquiring wider markets in other countries as well. Great stress is also laid on one other proposition, that of rural credits.

The first clause I desire to refer to, as to retaining our agricultural population and preventing an exodus from the farms, as well as the need for wider markets and the value for home markets, coupled with the necessity for rural credits to enable our agricultural population to carry on, is a paragraph of considerable importance. It may appear satisfactory to some people but to me it is not; I do not think that it comes within the province of a government to do things for the people which they could or should do themselves. It seems to me that if

the restrictions which at present hamper agriculture in this country were removed it would not be necessary for the government to finance loans to our farmers to enable them to carry on. I will attempt before I sit down to show wherein the government have failed in that respect, and that no reasonable effort has been made by them to enable those engaged in agriculture in Canada to carry on profitably. We find that agriculture in Canada to-day is so hampered with restrictions of one kind or another that many farmers are only too glad to abandon an occupation for which they are qualified and have been engaged in for many years and

The Address-Mr. Sutherland (S. Oxford)

to take up something else in connection with which there is less governmental interference.

To illustrate the influence to which I am referring I need only ask you to turn to the Auditor General's report for the year 1924, wherein you will fjpd that there was paid out in one department of the government alone no less than $866,000 in travelling expenses for government officials who travel around the country supervising and interfering, and generally discouraging the farmers. And remember that this does not include the cost of automobiles, railway fares and expenses of that sort, or salaries; it is merely for the ordinary travelling expenses of officials on salary. Some one may say, "This country is spending a lot of money on agriculture, so why do the farmers complain?" Well, I am pointing to one item, a large item, which I defy anyone to show has been spent largely in the interests of agriculture. On the contrary the effect has been to discourage those enagaged in that occupation.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

On whom was this $866,000 spent?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

It represents travelling expenses of officials of the Department of Agriculture for the Dominion for the year 1924.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Were they travelling inspectors or stationary government officials?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Both. I am sure my hon. friend must have observed a good many of them. This expenditure was incurred, I may say, before the Minister of Agriculture turned loose on the country another army of what are known as egg inspectors. Incidentally I might refer to something that took place in the city of Ottawa last week when the produce dealers of the Dominion met here in convention. I have the trade bulletin published in Montreal which contains a report of the meeting. As my hon. friend has asked the question, perhaps I may be allowed to throw a little light on how these people look on the matter by quoting the article in the trade bulletin. It deals with the difficulty that the egg inspectors have in determining what the regulations really mean, because what are known as "firsts" are really "thirds", and "seconds" are really "fourths". They suggest that "standard" should be used instead of firsts and "medium" instead of thirds. The article proceeds:

When news of this resolution was wigwagged to parliament hill, the hon. Minister of Agriculture was dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and it is confidentially

reported that he immediately applied for the job of Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. That any mere aggregation of egg dealers should dare to call a "second" a "medium," conjured up visions of the black art witchcraft, hypnotism. "Mediums" were fakirs, masqueraders, clairvoyants, charlatans. Away with them! Give me back my trusty "seconds"!

It may be true that no one wants them, and we hope no one will want them. We hope every last one of them will rot. If they must be eaten, send them to Toronto. There are no Liberals there anyway. Serves them right for producing "seconds. '

This illustrates the views entertained by those engaged in the trade towards the regulations which have been enacted by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) and which have worried the people for the past year. The army of inspectors necessary for this work is not included in the figures which I have given to the House, and I am satisfied that reference to the Auditor General s report for the past fiscal year will show a considerable increase in the amount paid.

On Friday of last week the member for Pontiac (Mr. Cahill) charged us on this side of the House with obstructing the business of parliament. Just imagine, the member for Pontiac complaining about obstruction, with sixteen or seventeen of his colleagues speaking on behalf of the government, and not a speech from this quarter of the House! It is the most absurd and ridiculous statement ever made in view of what actually happened. But there was something more. The government was not ready to go on with any business and it was necessary in the meantime that the administration should have better control over the House before it would take chances on the House voting. That is really what was disturbing the government. On January 29 a supplementary address was presented to parliament. The main Address had not been disposed of when a supplementary one came down-not presented, it is true, in the usual way, through His Excellency the Governor General; but this government has no regard for customs, precedents or parliamentary procedure. This supplementary address was presented to the House toy the hon. member for Winnipeg 'North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). As I pointed out the other day, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre would not accept the word of the Prime Minister; he required a promise in black and white on the records of the House over the signature of the Prime Minister before he gave his vote on behalf of the government. After reading this letter he followed that up by saying:

I.t seems to me that we must be very grateful indeed that the peculiar combination of circumstances which we find existing in the House at this time has seemingly made it possible to place upon the statute

80S COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Sutherland (S. Oxford)

books long overdue legislation in the interests of 6ome of (the most needy but least influential dements of our population.

Here is a statement by a member of this House that the weakness of the government enabled him to hold up the government, as it were, and to force its acceptance of the supplementary address before it would dare risk a vote on the motion then before the House. It -it any wonder that the people became alarmed at the situation which had developed in parliament and that the press was filled with references to the bargaining, the purchasing which was alleged to be going on in the House of Commons?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. gentleman has only recently referred to the member for Winnipeg North Centre, I must object to his repetition of the word " purchasing " in connection with any transactions which have taken place in this House.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend is a little late in the day in objecting. The term has been used so often that it is not necessary for me to repeat, it.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, if the implication is that any purchasing has been done, I must ask the hon. member to withdraw the expression.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have alreadv during this session taken very strong objection personally to the use of such an expression by members of the House, and I hope the hon. member will withdraw it.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Mr. Speaker, I do not

think the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) was listening very carefully. The member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) said that the newspapers had been talking about purchasing.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

If I understand

aright, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was referring directly to what had taken place in this House and was quoting from Hansard.

I ask that any reference to purchasing, so far as members of this House are concerned, should be withdrawn.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Mr. Speaker, shall I proceed?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I must ask hon. members on each side of the House not to use the expression complained of. It is both slanderous and unparliamentary. I have objected to it already during the course of this session. The mere fact that the expression is quoted from newspapers does not render it admissible in

debate as applicable to any member of the House.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Mr. Speaker, I did not quote from any particular newspaper, because of the fact that the quotations I have are in-my room. I was merely pointing out that such references had been made in the press all over this country, pointing out the unsatisfactory conditions which existed here in Ottawa, and I quoted the words of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre as an evidence to justify, possibly, in the minds of the people outside this parliament what they suspected was going on here. It is up to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre to take any inference he sees fit from it. It is not for me to say what he had in his mind when he made the statement quoted.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 8, 1926