March 18, 1932

CON

Walter Davy Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN (Long Lake):

Is it not a

fact that No. 1 highway through Saskatchewan, which is known as the transcontinental highway, was built as such, and is it not the best highway in Saskatchewan?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Charles Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

If No. 1 highway is the transcontinental highway it was built by the Saskatchewan government without the assistance of this government.

Then, in carrying out his next promise, the Prime Minister imposed the tariffs which apparently he had promised in order to help the industries of Canada. Those tariffs were imposed during the special session of 1630, and some of them were made even higher during the session of 1931. I should like to touch briefly on some of the things that have

arisen in connection with the tariff changes made by the right hon. gentleman.

Apparently the idea the government had in making the tariff changes was to solve the unemployment problem in Canada. We all know that during the election campaign the Prime Minister went across the country making promises in connection with the relief of unemployment, and he spoke at various places from coast to coast. In order to keep the record straight I should like to refer to some of the promises he made. At Winnipeg Mr. Bennett said:

The King government is blameworthy for failing to provide employment that would keep people in the country.

At Regina he said:

Unemployment would not exist had the King government done its duty.

At Calgary he said:

We pledge ourselves to find a solution to the unemployment problem.

At Calgary and Victoria he said:

We in Canada cannot tolerate a dole.

At Moose Jaw he said:

I will as soon as possible call the house together, not for the issuance of doles but for the inauguration of a scheme whereby national institutions will be set up which will provide jobs for the unemployed men of the Dominion of Canada.

Again at Calgary he said:

This is a new country, and there is no excuse for unemployment in Canada if a government does its duty.

Then at Victoria he said:

Is there.any excuse for Canada to have hard times if the government is discharging its duties as it should?

At Woodstock he said:

We must pass laws at the special session that will anticipate work for our people on national highways, on great canals, that we must make for our waterways to the sea. . . .

At Moncton he said:

I promise to end unemployment.

At Sarnia he said:

Someone is responsible for unemployment, not individuals but governments. Governments by their majorities in parliament are responsible for enacting all legislation.

I presume that the tariff changes made during the special session were for the purpose of ending unemployment, but during the course of this debate figures have been put on Hansard showing the result of these changes. During the special session of 1930 we were furnished by the government with details of unemployment throughout Canada.

Unemployment Continuance Act

I still have that file, and it shows a total of 117,000 unemployed throughout this country. According to figures placed on Hansard during this debate we now have 550,000 unemployed, and the number of unemployed in the manufacturing industries, which were supposed to be helped by these tariff changes, has increased by some 203,000, so the tariff did not relieve unemployment.

What was done by those tariff changes? Business was unsettled to such an extent that people were afraid and are still afraid to do business because they do not know what changes will take place next. The government took power to fix valuations for duty purposes by order in council, on practically all goods coming into the country. Most of our manufacturers must import some portion of their finished product, and they do not know where they stand. Rather an entertaining editorial was written in this connection, and I should like to read from it just one paragraph. I do not pretend to enumerate all the changes that took place after the budget of last year was brought down, but I should like to read this portion of an editorial written on June 9, last:

In view of these on-again-off-again-gone-again-Finnegan performances, it is interesting to recall Mr. Bennett's protestations while in opposition that a tariff made by him would be a stable tariff; something that industry could depend upon; a tariff that would "stay put." Instead of that, we have tariffs and excise duties that go up and down as erratically as the cars on a roller coaster. Instead of having something to depend on, industry does not know from one day to the next what changes will be made over night.

You cannot expect people to do business when they are kept in that state of mind. I should now like to give some results of this tariff. On the train I met the western manager of one of our road machinery companies, who also acted as agent for a lateral ditcher made in Boise, Idaho. You would rather imagine that any government would allow machinery not made in Canada to come in without a very heavy duty, but that was not the case in connection with two lateral ditchers required for irrigation purposes in Alberta. The two ditchers cost S168.75 at Boise, Idaho. There was added 15} per cent as dumping duty, amounting to $25.73. Duty was assessed at 35 per cent, amounting to $67.90. The four per cent sales tax amounted to $10.48. The one per cent excise tax amounted to $2.62, and the freight, including a ten per cent surcharge, totalled $47.85. The profit to the dealer was 25 per cent, or S42.20, so that the total cost of these ditchers, which was $168.75 in Boise, Idaho, was $365.53 to the purchaser in this country.

Here is another example taken from the Winnipeg Free Press:

The Free Press has been shown an invoice of woollen goods from England with the accompanying notation which would make an interesting exhibit if an investigation were being held as to the causes for the startling diminution in trade with Great Britain which is now taking place.

The goods involved were serges and worsted; actual value as paid by the importer, $408. The duty proper based upon the mixture of ad valorem and specie rates which is the feature of the textile schedule in the Bennett tariff was $221.61; to this was added the special penalty because the pound was some 43 cents under the allowed rating. This brought the total customs taxation to $265.44-the equivalent of an ad valorem tax of 65 per cent. This total does not include excise or sales tax which amounted to another thirty-eight dollars. The customs levy upon these goods was about half as high again as under the former tariff.

A rate of 65 per cent is of course intended to be prohibitive and is so except in the limited number of cases where quality rather than price is the deciding factor. The imperial conference is to meet shortly for the purpose of encouraging trade between this country and the_ other British nations, especially Great Britain; in preparation for it the Canadian people might give some thought to this matter of prohibitive duties on British goods for which there is, under fair conditions, a market in Canada. Is a duty of 65 per cent against British goods permissible under any conceivable set of circumstances?

No wonder trade is stagnant in Canada; no wonder trade has fallen off to such an extent, as indicated by various speakers in this debate; no wonder unemployment is increasing in different directions. We must realize that in this country we produce very much more than we can consume and must therefore find markets outside, and you cannot find markets unless you are prepared to buy something in exchange. Even members of the government are beginning to realize 'that. I notice that the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Sutherland), the other day came to a realization of this truth, and I hope that the idea he has will be shared by other members of the government. In The Citizen of March 5 he is reported:

Must Be Ready To Buy As Well As Sell Wares

Imperial Conference Results Seem Sure to Be of Tremendous Importance Says Col. Sutherland

Sarnia, Ont., March 4.-"We can't expect to get a lot of things unless we are satisfied to give something in return," declared Col. D. M. Sutherland. Minister of National Defence tonight, outlining plans for the Imperial conference to be held at Ottawa in July.

The next promise is with respect to the St. Lawrence waterway. In this regard the

Minister of Railways said:

His promise in regard to the St. Lawrence waterway he has carried out in conversation with the United States government.

Unemployment Continuance Act

We do not know what those conversations were but we shall probably hear more about the matter before the end of the session. So far as we on this side are concerned, we do not know anything about it. The next promise which we are told was carried out was in regard to unemployment relief:

In regard to unemployment relief he has helped 350,000 of the Canadian people to get work which they could not have got under any policy which anyone in the house has heard enunciated by any one of my hon. friends opposite in the last three years.

I read to the house the promises made by the Prime Minister during the election campaign, and suggestions have been made on this side of the house as to what might have been done. But these suggestions have not been heeded. At all events, unemployment has mot decreased, business is more at a standstill than it ever was, and we hardly know where we are drifting. 1 am glad to note, however, that the Minister of Railways disagrees with his leader in one respect. At page 971 he says:

In this country we have a condition which is due to a world situation and not to anything we have done, and, I say frankly, not due to anything the leader of the opposition has done; one which is due

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Walter Davy Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN (Long Lake):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Sit down.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The government did not

take that attitude.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Charles Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

Hardship is being placed upon the people of Saskatchewan.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken for forty minutes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. C. G. POWER (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Bothwell) I was much impressed by the moving appeal made by the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull), ostensibly to hon. members on this side of the house, but I think in reality to his own leader. The hon. member for Regina is a lawyer and I gathered from his remarks that he understood perfectly the situation. In answer to a question asked by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) he agreed that it was within the power of the government and of the government alone to initiate and to introduce into this house a money bill. In order to relieve distress in Saskatchewan, in order to carry on the work of unemployment relief throughout the Dominion of Canada, money must be found. We, through the leader of the opposition and twenty-five hon. members who have spoken on this side, have expressed not only our willingness but our eagerness to vote any sum which the government may require to carry on this work. May I call the attention of the government to the words of its leader, as quoted a moment ago by the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Bothwell) to the effect that governments are responsible for the enacting of legislation. I say to the government, as other hon. members on this side have said: Enact legislation with respect to relief and unemployment and we will vote it at once, but we refuse most emphatically and energetically to be coerced into abandoning the privileges and rights which belong to our constituents in order to satisfy the waywardness and stubbornness of the leader of the government. Money the government may have, and welcome in so far as we are concerned; but if we respect ourselves, and we think we do; if we have any respect for the people who sent us here, we must enter a protest against their being deprived of the rights and privileges to which they as British subjects are entitled and which is their birthright and their inheritance.

Let me examine for a moment the scope of' this legislation. I do not propose to deal with the financial features other than to repeat what I have said already, that we are prepared to vote the money. By the legislation passed at the last session, this parliament, a representative body sent here to voice the opinions, sentiments and feelings of the people, is deprived absolutely of the rights which from time immemorial free parliaments in free British countries have exercised. I do not desire, nor have I the time, to cast my eye back over the pages of history and to repeat, as has been already repeated, that rebellions, revolutions and changes of government have taken place on less excuse than that given by my right hot), friend opposite.

I desire to deal with a phase of this legislation which has not met with the attention which it perhaps deserves from hon. members on the other side. Section 4 of the act which it is proposed to revive or resurrect reads:

The governor in council shall have full power to make all such orders and regulations as may be deemed necessary or desirable for relieving distress, providing employment and, within the competence of parliament, maintaining peace, order and good government throughout Canada.

May I interrupt the trend of my discourse to say that if the government had had ordinary common sense and foresight it would have provided the seed grain necessarv and would

Unemployment Continuance Act

have made arrangements for the carrying on of relief before March 1. Under this section of the bill the governor in council-during the course of my observations I hope to show that that means only the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Bennett)-takes full power unto itself to make any law it desires. The words " peace, order and good government throughout Canada" contain the residuary powers left in the British North America Act to cover all the authority of the federal government of Canada. Under this act the government may make laws on any and all subjects. It may make laws to change the representation; it may make laws to change redistribution; may make laws to change the franchise; may make laws in regard to every conceivable subject within the competence of parliament. Further, as has already been said in the house, it may, whilst parliament is sitting, go down to the east block and repeal an enactment which was passed by this parliament the previous day or even that very afternoon. Against the granting of such powers as these we must, if we have any respect for our traditions, make the most emphatic protest.

The difference between hon. members opposite and ourselves is not merely one of procedure, as would seem to have been indicated by a number of my hon. friends on that side. It is a fundamental difference, of opinion, of state of mind, of sentiment. It is a difference between those who believe in responsible government and those who believe in autocracy, between those who believe in the rule of the people and those who believe in a kind of bourgeois dynasty. It is a difference in theory. Our theory-and we stand on the broadest grounds of constitutional procedure, practice and tradition-is that parliamentary institutions, as we know them in every country under the British flag, have not as yet outlived their usefulness. The theory of hon. gentlemen opposite would appear to be that which has its best expression in countries which are not British, which now finds its truest manifestation in the South American republics, in Italy and in bolshevik Russia which would seem to be the examples which hon. gentlemen opposite are willing to follow.

In defence of the position taken by the government and its leader we find two arguments: first, the one raised yesterday by the hon. member for South Cape Breton (Mr. MacDonald) and some days ago by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens), namely, that the government had undertaken certain commitments and therefore it is necessary that the powers conferred upon it by the statute of last year should be extended.

I repeat the language of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) that if there are any commitments, they must surely be known to hon. gentlemen opposite. My hon. friends must know by now that to which they are obligated. They must know almost to a cent the amount for which they have assumed responsibility. If they will tell the house what that obligation, that commitment is, not only shall we vote that, but we shall add fifty, one hundred per cent more, and vote that too.

There is one other argument urged on behalf of the stand taken by the government, one that I heard from the lips of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) himself, and if my recollection serves me well, also from those of the Minister of Trade and Commerce. It is that it is more convenient, more expedient, to carry on business in that way. We all know that this argument of expediency is one which has served to justify every private crime and every piece of political oppression and tyranny since the beginning of the world. Ever since the commencement of time expediency has been the justification of crimes, of oppression. It was expediency which brought about the tearing up of the treaty of Limerick by William of Orange, thereby antagonizing thousands of Irishmen against the British Empire for many years to come. It was expediency that animated the Chancellor of the German Empire in 1914 when he said: "We must cross Belgium; therefore our treaties are a scrap of paper." While I am mentioning this matter of 1914, it strikes me that it is the irony of fate that a nation which sacrificed over 50,000 of its sons in a fight to make the world safe for democracy, fifteen years afterwards is in this house destroying the last vestige of it. If expediency is to be our only guide, may I tell the right hon. gentleman and his colleagues that the lynch law, which is a most expeditious way of dealing with criminals, is a classic example of how expediency and convenience can be made to suit the purpose of an oppressive majority.

One other argument which was heard from the lips of the Prime Minister and, I think, also from those of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, was that no other means were at the government's disposal to deal with this matter of unemployment and farm relief. May I call the attention of hon. gentlemen opposite to the fact that during the election of 1930 the one, the important, the special means which the Prime Minister had to settle the unemployment question, was to call parliament, and to-day, forsooth,

Unemployment Continuance Act

he asks us, in order to settle the same question, to do away with parliament. I say to the right hon. gentleman-who, I am sorry, is not in his place, because I would much rather talk to him than at him-that those words of his are a confession of incapacity. If he cannot, through parliament, through the institutions established from time immemorial, settle the most important question now confronting the Canadian people, then he has no business in a free British country. The place for him is in some South American republic where he can be dictator at his will, or, better still, in Italy or Russia.

It has been suggested by hon. members opposite-and there may be some merit in the suggestion-that they are justified in delegating their authority to the Prime Minister. Without wishing to be offensive, I would say: Were I in their place, instead of sitting here day after day, silent, watching the Prime Minister's every move and1 gesture, wondering when they will gain a smile from him, I would rather delegate the power to him and go home.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Leslie Gordon Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Hamilton):

The hon. member cannot look at me and say that.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

No, I was perhaps addressing my remarks to my hon. friend because I recognize in him one who has a sense of humour and who can understand, as I do, the humour of the situation where people of his intelligence are placed in the situation in which he finds himself. Whatever may be the attitude taken by my hon. friends opposite iu regard to this matter of delegation of power, surely we, who are elected to represent constituents who do not share the views of hon. gentlemen opposite, cannot be expected to agree with their idea that the greatest man since confederation sits on the treasury bench opposite. Our people do not share that view. Mine have a wholly, a radically different view from that of hon. gentlemen opposite. I believe I have in the house a mandate to represent the electors of the constituency of Quebec South, and also in a constitutional way to represent the electors of every constituency in Canada. But dealing for a moment only with those of Quebec South, I am under the impression that I have some sort of contractual obligation towards them to join in the discussions in this house, to debate matters which are within the competence of parliament, and to express their views. Were I to accept the salary, even a reduced one, and not perform the obligations which I undertook when I stood for parliament, I would feel, and I commend this to hon. gentlemen if perhaps they have the same kind of con-41761-81

science as that which troubles me, that I had been false to my trust, that I had neglected my mandate, and that I was accepting the salarly under false pretences.

Having dealt with the powers which this act confers upon the executive, and having expressed my own view at least as strongly as I can, namely, that I do not believe that we should delegate such power to any executive or to any person, may I now deal for a moment, and I do it with some reluctance, with the next point which I wish to discuss, namely: Is the person to whom it is proposed to entrust these powers one to whom we can in conscience entrust all authority in the state?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Yes. .

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The hon. gentleman answers yes, and his opinion is a respectable one, but I regret that during the course of the observations that I wish to make I shall have to differ from him. This is a matter which I find it somewhat distasteful to discuss, since it has been my practice ever since I entered politics not to indulge in or discuss personalities. But on account of the peculiar circumstances of the case, in that it is proposed, as I hope presently to be able to show, to entrust to one man supreme power in this country, and in that this one man has, partly of his own volition and partly on account of the extravagant and exaggerated adulation of his followers, thrown his personality into politics so that it has become almost a political issue, we who take a definite stand on this matter must discuss that personality as any other live political issue. In doing so I wish to speak with candour and frankness and not to be unmindful of the somewhat inexplicable fact that personally I hold the Prime Minister in high esteem. If he were here I would spare his blushes by not enumerating at too great a length the high qualities which he possesses. Suffice it to say that he has talents of no mean order. He is able and energetic. On the other hand, I submit that perhaps on account of those very talents, and perhaps on account of .the realization he has that he does possess them, he is unfitted to exercise supreme power and control in a country such as this. His very talents may be those which if checked, controlled, and braked would make him an admirable constitutional Prime Minister, but his very defects are those which I fear would lead this country into calamity and disaster if he were allowed to continue as the dictator thereof. He is, as I think his friends will agree with me, very able, but he is as unstable as the shifting sands.

12S2

Unemployment Continuance Act

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

He is inconstant. I am

glad to see the Prime Minister coming in. I should like to return, Mr. Speaker, to the category of the qualities which I ascribed to the Prime Minister, as well as the defects which I -think more than negative those qualities when he asks us to entrust him with supreme power in the state. I was about to say-and I am very glad that he is here now, so that I can say it to him in the manner of a kind, frank and candid friend-that I believe he is as inconstant as it is possible to be, that he is variable, that he is unstable, and that he lacks in character that ponderation, that prudence and that wisdom which mark the truly great statesman.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Could you not find another adjective?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

In order to describe the Prime Minister with praise or blame, one is apt to fall into exaggeration. The exaggeration of praise I may leave to hon. gentlemen opposite. Surely we on this side can tell the truth in the way of blame. However estimable the Prime Minister may be in his private character and in his private relations, I much regret to say that in his public relations here in this house he often exhibits the manners of l Chicago policeman and the temperament of a Hollywood actor.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Shame.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, I should think this highly characteristic of the hon. gentleman but hardly in order, and certainly out of taste.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I regret that my right hon. friend is mumbling again. If he desires to call me to order, I shall be only too glad to sit down while he states his point.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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March 18, 1932