Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
I say without a word of criticism for this reason, that in the campaign over and over again I said that the
money if necessity demanded it could be taken by governor general's warrant for that purpose pending the assembling of parliament immediately after the conference. What criticism could I have directed at the administration after having made that perfectly clear? But in my heart I knew very well that my right hon. friend was not thinking of the unemployed primarily in connection with that session. He was thinking of the special interests that came to his rescue towards the end of the campaign and helped to put him where he is at the present time. It was not until the very last days of the campaign that he uttered any expression which gave the country the slightest idea that he intended to put up the tariff against Britain. The campaign had then about run its course and this phase passed unnoticed by the public at large; it was not unnoticed by those who expected to profit by it. But he did make this representation in the very last days of the campaign, and I drew attention to it in the speech to which I have just referred. It was necessary to wait until almost the last night of the campaign to draw attention to this statement, because my right hon. friend had gone up and down the country appealing to the necessities of the people, making their needs the excuse for the promises and pledges that he then made, and it was not until the very last days of the campaign that he told the petople what in his own mind he was determined to do, namely, to raise the tariff at the first opportunity in a way that would serve to their great advantage certain special interests in this country. So he called the special session to force those measures through. Supposing we of the opposition at the special session, had said, "We do not intend to allow this arbitrary and high-handed method of procedure. We are going to stay here and see that every item in this tariff program is discussed as it should be and its bearings properly considered." Supposing we had taken that position-a position which many think the opposition ought to have taken-what wlould have been the result? My right hon. friend made it plain the first day of the session when he said, "I will not go to any Imperial conference unless I get every bit of this program through." But in Toronto only a few days before he had said that the question of the solution of unemployment and the wheat situation hinged largely on the Imperial conference. Well, if we had taken a step of that kind, and my right hon. friend had not gone to the Imperial conference, we would have been told to-day that wheat was not going from Canada into Great Britain on any im-
The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King
proved basis because we had prevented the leader of the government from being present at the Imperial conference. We let him go. The point I wish to bring out very clearly is this, that his whole attitude was one of coercing this parliament into passing those particular measures. Usually when large sums of money are bo be spent a supply bill is brought down and is discussed in committee of supply. No supply bill was brought down at the special session, but in orded to limit discussion, a special bill appropriating this $20,000,000 was introduced. Usually when the tariff is being changed the Minister of Finance brings down a budget and shows the bearing of the changes upon the revenues of the country and the taxes of the people. There was no budget brought down 'at the special session, but my right hon. friend brought down special measures, which he drove through in a certain time by his threat not to go to the Imperial conference until he had witnessed their enactment. Under that form of closure, by those coercive methods he put through his legislation.
And what was the nature of it? There were three bills, one relating to the relief of unemployment, one to amend the Customs Act, and another to amend the customs tariff. The most extraordinary thing of all is that on the eve of going to an Imperial conference my right hon. friend should have put up fhe tariff against Britain herself. I wish he would give us his explanation of that particular action when he gets up to speak. Let me come back to what I said at the outset. We were agreed that the selling of Canadian wheat in the British market was the most important of all objectives, as it is still the most important. How can he possibly reconcile with that objective his action at the special session in putting up the duties against Britain, wiping out the preferences that were granted under the Dunning budget? Not only that, but raising the duties to a point that in many cases prevented any inflow of goods from Great Britain into this country. I hope my right hon. friend will give some explanation of his action in that regard. I should not like to think it was simply because he had made promises to certain interests that if he were returned that was what he would do. We all know that there are certain selfish interests in this country that would like to shut out all competition from Great Britain. We know that they are afraaid, from the point of view of their monopoly, of British competition even more than of competition from the United States. I hope it was not from motives of that kind that my right hon. friend made the changes he did make. And
I hope that it was not from a belief in his power to coerce the British government. Did he think when he raised the tariff against Britain that he was going to find it possible to coerce the government of the United Kingdom by such a step? Was that what he had in mind? If he thought anything of the kind he should have been fair to this parliament and told us.
I want to say to my right hon. friend that he did not treat parliament fairly with respect to the Imperial conference. I asked him politely at the beginning of the special session to give us a statement of what he intended to do at the Imperial conference, to make known his policies. He was also asked by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Garland) to advise parliament. He spoke on the Imperial conference two or three times, but he never told this house what he had in mind. I say that was not fair to parliament and it was not fair to the country. I think we all assumed that my right hon. friend was busy and that he had little time to think of these matters, and naturally we did not- press him. But if he had in mind going to Britain to coerce that country; if he had in mind going to Britain to put up bo the British government a proposal which he knew could not be accepted by any government in that country he should have told us.
I say he should have made known to parliament what his intentions were, and here again may I say I think it is worth considering whether it is consonant with procedure under British parliamentary institutions for any individual or for that matter any cabinet to promote policies with respect to great imperial matters, policies that affect the whole future and development of the British empire and to launch those policies publicly before the world without any discussion in the first instance either in parliament or throughout the country. After all, public opinion is a factor in government quite as much as anything else, and it is part of the system of government under British institutions that there should be the fullest discussion of policies on the platform, in parliament and certainly also in the cabinet. I do not know what has transpired in the cabinet, but I have very grave doubts in my mind as to whether my right hon. friend ever told his cabinet what he intended to do when he got to London. If he did so, I am amazed to see certain hon. gentlemen sitting beside him to-day. I believe, with respect to one or two of them at least that if they had known in advance that this was the approach that was to be made to Britain, they would have
The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King
been manly enough to say, "I will resign before I will remain in this cabinet and be a party to that procedure." If that is not the case, then they were all parties to it as indeed, they are under our theory of the collective responsibility of the cabinet. It is my belief that the policies of my right hon. friend were not revealed to his own government. Certainly they were not revealed to this parliament; certainly they were not disclosed to the country, and in all those things I think he has offended against the best traditions of parliamentary procedure and government.
But the serious part is this, and I come back again to the question of the selling of Canadian wheat in Britain. We do not need to go to the conference in London to find out why the Prime Minister failed; we do not need to discuss what took place in London to see why there has been no enlargement of the market for Canadian wheat in Britain as a consequence of what took place at the conference. The Prime Minister was doomed to failure before he left this country, if he had in mind the particular policies which he subsequently proposed; he was doomed to failure when in this parliament, on the eve of going to England, he forced through those increases in the tariff which changed the whole feeling and view of the British public mind in relation to this country. I repeat that I am at a loss to understand his action or the motive behind it. I have asked myself this question: Can it be that promises were made which he had not expected would have to be redeemed and that, being a man of his word, he felt bound regardless of consequences to see they were carried out? I have asked myself this question : Is it because he believes in coercion and because he thinks he will be strong enough to carry that policy even against the government of Great Britain? I have come back to this thought, and perhaps he will tell me if I am wrong. I believe that what he had in mind was a desire to further his conception of a Canadian economic unit, as he calls it; to make out of this country a self-sufficing economic unit, non-trading, beyond its borders, a country that will work exclusively within itself and confine its trade to itself; that in his heart of hearts he believes that this is going to be in the interests of Canada, though how he can believe it surpasses human comprehension. How this country, made into an isolated economic unit, is to prosper and develop along with the other nations of the world, is something indeed very difficult to understand, but the more I follow
his actions here and at the Imperial conference the more I come to believe that this has been the actuating motive, that the proposals he made were made with a view to their being rejected so that it would be a little easier for him to put up the tariff again against Great Britain, if need be, in order to avoid trade from that source and so further to secure monopoly to those special interests already protected behind the highest of tariff walls. If that is not the case, I hope my right hon. friend will so inform the house when he gets up to speak.
I will give to the house one or two references which bear out what I have just said. The change in front with respect to the British preference is remarkable in view of what my hon. friend said during the last session when the Dunning budget was introduced. At that time the preferences were there; they were known to my right hon. friend; we were discussing the Imperial conference, and at that time in this House of Commons, standing where I am standing at this moment, my right hon. friend told this parliament that as an expression of affection and goodwill towards the mother country he approved of these preferences. What transpired between that moment and the time when my right hon. friend went to England to rid him entirely of that feeling of affection and goodwill towards the mother country? Perhaps he will answer that question. Let me read his words, which will be found in Hansard of May 6, 1930, at page 1833. They are as follows:
In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to our position with respect to British preference, I wish to say the following: As an earnest of our affection and good-will, as an expression of the hope we all have that some day a closer economic alliance of empire states may find being, I commend the measures for British preference which the minister proposes.
That speech was made here; it was made to do duty for the Conservative party throughout the campaign. When my hon. friends were speaking in parts of the country where there were those who were known to be favourable to the British preference the words of the present Prime Minister were read as favouring the preference as an expression of goodwill and affection towards the mother country.
I ask my right hon. friend, when he gets up to speak, to tell this house and the country what transpired during the course of that campaign which caused him to alter his whole view in that particular and, at a special session of parliament, to wipe out these very preferences which he said should stand as an earnest of affection and good-will in connection with our relations *with the mother country.
The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King
I need not remind hon. members of what I said during the course of the Short session as to what would be the effect of my hon. friend's action at the Imperial conference. Inasmuch however as some of his remarks and the comments of others have been capable of being taken as meaning that it was due to some action or lack of action of the present British government, the Labour government which is at present in office, that my right hon. friend was unable to get anything done at the Imperial conference, I feel I ought to read to the house exactly what I said to him before he left for England as to the fate of any course such as the one he in fact adopted. The Prime Minister I repeat was doomed to failure as far as the Imperial conference was concerned, before he left Canada at all, having in mind his proposals and the methods which he intended to adopt. The quotation which I am about to give will be found in revised Hansard for September 9, at page 37, and in the unrevised Hansard at pages 41 and 42, where I am reported as having spoken as follows:
My hon. friend seems to have very little faith in voluntary agreements. Let me say to him that when he goes to London I think he will find that the only things he will be able to accomplish or that any government will be able to accomplish in the matter of trade as between the different countries of the British Empire will be by voluntary agreement, bycooperation. He will find it very difficult to get very far along on any other path.
Does my hon. friend believe he has a mandate from the Canadian people to-day to blast his way into the British market? Is that the mandate he has? What is the position? Is he, in the measures he is about to bring down, to increase the tariff against Britain as well as against other countries? That was the statement he made, that he was going to put up the tariff against Britain as well as against other countries. Is that the step he proposes to take in advance of proceeding to an Imperial economic conference? Does he believe he is going to strengthen his hand in that fashion?
After making his speech about blasting his way into the markets of the world, my hon. friend when taken to task said that after all it was not blasting he meant so much as it was blazing, that it was not the warrior attitude so much as the crusader attitude which he was adopting, that all he was claiming was to be first in the long line of great men who have helped to blaze the path of Canada and of the empire. Then when he went on to explain what he meant by "blazing," he came to the term "bargaining," and said that soma bargaining process was the only way he was going to trade, whether with other parts of the world or with other parts of the British Empire.
What does that mean? According to his own statements it means putting up the tariff in this country, to begin with; that is to be the first part of it. And then on the other hand, so far as the other countries of tire British Empire are concerned, it means that
they are to be obliged to change their fiscal policies in order to make them accord with_ the fiscal policies of this country. My hon. friend knows very well that the British Empire is founded on self-government, and that as far as self-government is concerned, it means autonomy in everything and in nothing more than in the matter of fiscal policy. If he is proceeding to England with any idea of trying to influence the parties in Great Britain in the matter of their fiscal policy, his time would be very much better spent at home. If he expects to make a bargain counter out of the council table at Downing street, he will not get very far in serving the interest either of Canada or of the British Empire. I say he should tell us very plainly what his particular policies are going to be, and his attitude with respect to the questions which may come up at the Imperial conference.
When that statement was made to my hon. friend, when, as leader of the opposition speaking to the leader of the government, I indicated that we at least believed that if he were going to make a demand which involved a change of fiscal policy in Britain, if he were going to try coercive methods, he would get nowhere, I say that if those were the things he intended to do, he should have taken parliament into his confidence and given the house and his own followers an opportunity to express their views on a procedure of that kind.
On September 17 I again referred to the futility of hoping to extend trade within the empire by tactics such as the raising of the tariff against Britain on the eve of the conference, or of extending the market for Canadian wheat by any process of bargaining or "blasting." I think what was prophesied at the time has turned out to be true, pretty much to the letter. These were the remarks I made to my right hon. friend; they will be found in the unrevised Hansard for September 17, 1930, at page 340, and in the revised Hansard at page 315:
I have only one further word, and that is to repeat with emphasis What I said a moment ago about this legislation being introduced on the eve of the Imperial conference. The Prime Minister well knows that there is no problem quite so serious for Canada at the present time as that of the marketing of our western gram and of surplus farm products generally. He knows that the purchasing power of the middle west, in the last analysis, will determine the extent to which other branches of industry will thrive, and that this depends in very large part on the degree to which we can secure a market overseas for the grain of western Canacla. He knows that many of the markets which we formerly had are closed or are being closed against us to-day, for instance, the markets of France, of Germany and of Italy. He knows also that protection is no cure for unemployment. He has only to look across the border in the United States, the most highly protected country in the world and see how extensive unemployment is there, to know that protection
The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King
is no cure for unemployment. One would have felt my hon. friend, at least on the eve of a great economic conference which is to consider matters of trade within the empire, would have thought it desirable on the part of his government, and on the part of this parliament as representing the people of Canada, to have maintained toward Great Britain an attitude of a character calculated to meet a hearty response from the people of the British Isles tc such demands as he might reasonably make for the improvement in trade between the two countries. How can he expect to get from the British government or the British people any response in the way of opportunities for increasing our markets in Great Britain when his last step before he leaves Canada is to raise the duties against British goods coming into this country, and his first word when he reaches the British Isles is to announce the extent of the increases which he has made? This is a most extraordinary proceeding on the part of my hon. friend. It may be he has in mind blasting or blazing or bargaining as a result of the steps he has taken, but I would like to repeat to ham what I said before that I think he will find those particular methods are of very little avail as within the British Empire itself, and that only through voluntary cooperation and an attitude of friendship and good-will are we likely to achieve much in the way of permanent development of interimperial trade.
May I say this. We heard in a previous election a good deal with respect to "the parting of the ways." We heard something of it in the last election. It was my hope that, as a result of the attitude which the government previously in office took, we would so far as the different parts of the British Empire are concerned discover ourselves at the meeting of the ways, in the matter of interimperial trade, when the Imperial conference is held in London, and that Canada's example would be an example which would be followed by all other parts of the British Empire. But I am afraid that the stand which my hon. friend has taken to-day has put us, so 'far as inter-imperial trade is concerned, not at the meeting of the ways, but I greatly regret to say very much at the parting of the ways so far as the further development of trade within the empire is concerned.
I have covered the situation up to the time when my right hon. friend left for the Imperial conference. I hope I have made clear the line of difference between us-the method which my right hon. friend proposes to take and has taken, the method of blasting, of economic coercion and the method which we would have taken, one of conciliatory approach; an endeavour to create an atmosphere of friendliness with a view to discovering common ground. I believe I have made it clear that my right hon. friend was not fair with the country when he spoke of having a special session for the purpose of relieving unemployment and, on the plea of relieving the necessities of the poor, came to this parliament and enacted legislation which makes wider than ever the gulf between the rich and the poor; the IMr. Mackenzie King.]
gulf between those who have plenty and those who lack many of the necessities of life. I hope I have made it clear that he was equally unfair to this parliament, holding as he did views of the character here described not to have told us of his intentions; also, that by talking of blasting a way into the markets of Britain and by contemplating proposals which could not be entertained, he was taking, before leaving for England, and before the conference was under way, an attitude which he must have known was bound to change the feeling in Britain towards Canada. I believe I have made it clear that before he left Canada at all he had made impossible any success for himself or his party, or for our country, at the Imperial conference.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY MOVED BY MR. MAX. D. CORMIER AND SECONDED BY MR. VICTOR C. PORTEOUS