October 12, 1932

CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Then if it is agreeable we might go into committee and come right out again.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton South) in the chair.

Progress reported.

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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:

Perhaps I should say to the house that the reason for this procedure is that the schedules will supplant the provisions of the tariff with respect to British preference items. This is part of the tariff structure, whereas in the other cases, like Australia and New Zealand, the agreements do not require that treatment. It is not a ways and means matter with respect to them: we proceed as we proceeded last year and on previous occasions with the French treaty and the Australian and New Zealand treaties, which have specific items. As this changes the tariff structure, it has to be done by ways and means, and I wanted the right hon. gentleman to know the reason it is being done.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I notice that

my right hon. friend, with respect to the others, does not precede his notice of bills by any 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:

No, it is unnecessary.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Is it unnecessary ?

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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:

That is what I was endeavouring to say. I consulted the authorities, and the clerk is very clear about it in that regard.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The rule

seems to be very explicit about any treaties that relate to trade having to be preceded by way of resolution. I should like to know what the clerk's reasons are.

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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:

I shall discuss the matter with him. I was going to put resolutions on the order paper with respect to the others, but the clerk, after taking some time to investigate the matter, reported that it was unnecessary and that we could proceed with the bills as we did last year in connection with the other matters. If it is thought desirable I can still put resolutions on the order paper.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

All right. As a matter of determining the further procedure, I believe it is understood that we shall debate in the first instance the resolution approving the treaties before we begin to discuss the items therein.

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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:

Quite so; and it is

understood that the further discussion will be postponed until Monday. I have assured the right hon. gentleman that the adjournment of the debate, which he has moved, will carry until Monday in order that an opportunity may be given to every member of the house to study the provisions of the agreements as indicated by the copies I have tabled today. So that we will not proceed further with this discussion until Monday. In the meantime, we will go on with the debate on the address.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Are copies now in the

distribution office?

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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:

Yes; they were available as soon as I concluded. .

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GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH


The house resumed from Tuesday, October 11, consideration of the motion of Mr. P. G. Davies for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Mackenzie King.


LIB

Paul Mercier

Liberal

Mr. PAUL MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation) :

Mr. Speaker, we find in the speech

from the throne the following statement:

The problem of unemployment continues to receive the anxious attention of my ministers. Under the powers granted them at the last session of parliament, they have been able to develop further, in cooperation with the provinces and municipalities, a scheme of direct relief to be put into operation during the autumn and winter months to the extent required by prevailing conditions. Plans for the reestablishment of the unemployed in various parts of the country are in preparation and will become operative as soon as, in the opinion of my ministers, the public expenditure incident thereto will be productive of commensurate benefits.

Faced with the distress prevailing in Canada and especially in the city of Montreal

The Address-Mr. Mercier (St. Henri)

where the constituency I have the privilege of representing is located, I wonder how we shall continue this policy of dole which, in my opinion, has proved a total failure, under the circumstance, in relieving the unemployment. Our treasury is empty, the revenues of customs are decreasing; loans made, in the course of last year, have been expended. I wonder where we shall find the necessary funds to meet the enormous expenditures which await us without having again recourse to a new loan from the people.

In Montreal, more than 125,000 people depend on doles. In the constituency of St. Henri, there are a number of parishes where half the papulation receive this dole. This method of helping the unemployed is not entirely commendable. What is needed is work; it is not dole, as an hon. member expressed it yesterday, it is work with a decrease of wages, if you wish, but nevertheless work.

As winter approaches and during that entire season, it will be necessary not only to feed the unemployed but also lodge them. Clothes, underclothes, wood and coal will be needed. The oost will almost double. The present system of helping the unemployed, which is new and different from that which first prevailed, has failed. Last year, the Dominion government undertook certain works throughout the country, it contributed to provincial and municipal enterprises to the extent of one third, 20 per cent, or 40 per cent as the case may be. The government discontinued this method of relieving the unemployed and helping the municipalities. A new method was adopted. We can therefore safely say that the first failed. However, the new method is no better. As I stated last year in this house, and I must emphasize once more this point, we have very little advice to give to our friends in power, for we are aware that our advices would not be followed and that a member in the opposition, so to speak, simply appeals to the moon or the stars. We have, however, without the least conceitness, the courage of expressing our opinions.

We have always contended that the government should, itself, have supplied work to the people in Canada, to the population of Montreal, particularly, which I claim as a member of one of the constituencies of that city. The government should have utilized the money received from the federal revenues to carry out federal enterprises, and provided for the future as well as the present. For instance, work should have been undertaken in the port of Montreal. I read in the newspapers that elevators had been rented in Prescott, Ontario, to store grain at

the approach of autumn. Whether this is true, I cannot say, but if it is so, why not have built an additional elevator in the harbour at Montreal? This would have given work to labourers, workmen, engineers and to all those who are connected with construction work. If it were necessary also to build one in Quebec, it should have been constructed. Thus work would have been available and, if it be true that great prosperity is at our door, as we are assured by hon. gentlemen opposite, we would have been ready to welcome it. Later, when the time comes to request further public enterprises in Canada, the answer will be: We have no

more funds, we expended, when unemployment prevailed, our last cent without any returns, in charity, direct assistance and food for the unemployed. If this money had been expended wisely, provision would have been made for ten or fifteen years to come, while waiting for the financial situation to clear; it would have been possible for the country to meet future expenditures, while giving the people work and bread. All would have benefited. Municipalities and provinces would have been forced to carry out works, the provinces would have contributed their quota to relieve the unemployed, the Dominion government equally so, and, in all fields of activities, municipal, provincial or federal, we would have accomplished deeds which would have benefited, permanently, the public service. Looking forward to the future, investing wisely our money, we would have built in the various counties of the dominion public edifices which, in certain localities are absolutely necessary.

What is, at present, the lot of the working classes in our cities. I now broach that part of the amendment moved by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) which states;

This house is of the opinion that the tariff policies of the present administration have seriously injured the trade of Canada and have intensified the economic depression, and that the government has wholly failed to afford a remedy for unemployment and agricultural distress as pledged by the Prime Minister.

The house regrets that, except the dole, the government has no policy with respect to the relief of unemployment.

If you travel through the city of Montreal, you will notice that there are many vacant houses. If you call at the city hall and examine the list of properties prepared by the clerk for the sheriff's sale you will note that they are very numerous. You will equally note that there are a great number of tax arrears and that property owners whose

158 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Mercier (St. Henri)

names do not appear on the sheriff's list, are really in debt because the tenants do not pay their rent. On the other hand, should you glance towards our factories, you will note that no smoke escapes from their smokestacks, and that one might, to some extent, compare the situation of 1932 to that of 1896, when the doors of our industrial establishments were closed, and the wheels of our western pioneers' wagons emigrating to the United States left deep furrows in our roads. The labourer has no work and, I repeat it, federal undertakings should be started to help the working classes which would find the relief they have long awaited.

Furthermore, what is the lot of our farmers? No markets exist. The local market is practically nil, and at present, no foreign markets can be found. There is hardly any sale for his farm products, and the little profits he receives do not remunerate him sufficiently for the care of his herd and the efforts he devotes to his tillage and crops. The farmer, at present, lives almost without hope.

Our factories which find sponsors in our friends to your right, sir, are far from being prosperous. In the constituency of St. Henri, there are 100 to 150 factories whose blastfurnaces are burning low, the steam which they generate is not sufficient to operate the whistle which calls the workers to their work. The Dominion Textile Co., in St. Henri, operates but a few days per week, notwithstanding the great protection granted to it by the party in power.

I again refer to the methods which I advocated a moment ago. About 1912 or 1913, I think, the pillars of a new customs building were laid on McGill street, in Montreal. These pillars cost over $1,000,000, without taking into account the amounts paid out for the expropriation or the purchase of the property. Ever since then, these foundations lay there and will suffer from exposure; no consideration was given to endow Montreal with a new customs building. For ever so long the need of one has been felt. The foundations were laid under a Conservative regime, that of the Borden government, and, since that date, the work was discontinued. These would have been the means to partially relieve unemployment by giving work to numerous artisans employed in various trades: metal work, reinforced concrete,

marble, electric installations and all which pertains to the heating system. It would have given work to the carpenters, brick-lMr. P. Mercier.]

layers and all trades' people of Montreal, yet nothing was done.

The Liberal party had appropriated a certain amount previous to 1930, to erect a new post office in Montreal. This building is not yet built. The question of expropriation is still pending. Will it take place in the near future? We know nothing of it. If this post office had been erected, it would also have been a boon to the workmen and tradesmen of Montreal.

A sum had also been appropriated in 1930, for a small post office in the constituency of St. Henri, but when the Conservative party assumed power, the wind blew it away. The erection of this building was much needed and would have afforded work to about 50 men.

This house, under the Liberal regime had appropriated $50,000,000 for Canadian National Railway works in Montreal. St. Henri was to benefit by it. The Canadian National Railway crosses my constituency, where there are junction lines and yards where cars are taken care of. If this undertaking conceived by us, the Liberal party, previous to 1930, had been carried out it would have afforded work to thousands of workmen.

If the Canadian National Railway station had been erected, the plans of which had been prepared, work again would have been available for thousands of workmen. Expropriations were carried out, the earthwork is finished and today we have in Montreal a wide open pit, in the heart of the city, at a spot where the travelling public continuously pass, it is a grave, a symbol of the approaching death of the present administration. If the new Canadian National Railway station had been erected in that locality, it would have served as a monument to the glory of the present government which would have thus continued worthily the deeds of their predecessors.

If viaducts had been constructed in the county of St. Henri-one at the corner of St. Ferdinand and Notre Dame streets-such works w'ould have afforded relief, the general plans of the Canadian National Railway would have thus been carried out.

Instead of this, a vain attempt was made to relieve unemployment by dole. Our working classes earn without providing for the future. A number of them have even forgotten their trade, and it may take them perhaps months to acquire skill in the work which was so dear to them in the past.

The future holds no prospect for them. They must be content with the dole they

The Address-Mr. Mercier (St. Henri)

receive since Montreal is on the eve of becoming like a celebrated Belgium city where the river which flows through it hardly carries any water, it is often called "Bruges the dead." It would be unfortunate to see Montreal become like that Belgium city. The whistles of boats are no more heard and those of factories are silent, the worker rises no more in the morning to go to work, he gets up late in the day to receive once a week charity in the form of dole. This system is repugnant to the good and honest workmen because it is contrary to their principles. What can be done? This government cannot give them work; it cannot raise the necessary money to carry out works and at the same time activate trade.

Moreover, this government was born from the crisis. Had they not taken as a pretext the crisis at the general election, giving assurance that they would relieve it immediately, the people would not have put them in power. However, this crisis which gave it birth will also be its doom. It will drag it with it, because certainly the depression will not forsake its offspring when it bids farewell to this beautiful country. Both will depart when prosperity returns to Canada, the best and the sincerest companion of the Liberal party.

If we examine section 2, chapter III of the statutes enacted at the second session of 1931, we find that this section 2 authorizes the cabinet to prohibit the importation of all goods coming directly or indirectly from a country which did not attach its signature to the Versailles treaty. Certainly it is by virtue of this authorization that this government has placed an embargo on the importation of lumber, pulpwood, furs and coal from Russia. However, by order in council, the embargo on Russian furs was lifted in 1931, and ever since they have entered the country like all other goods. This was a great revelation to the Canadian people who really were under the impression that Russian products would be barred from this country. A few citizens were anxious to export farm implements to Russia. We could have received from Russia an order for 85,000,000. The Massey-Harris company, manufacturers of farm implements, would have opened their doors wide and given work to numerous people by turning out 85,000,000 worth of farm implements. This company was requested not to accept this order. Mr. Mackie, trade agent of the Soviet republic, saw his plans upset. The embargo was lifted on furs, but the exportation of farm implements was prohibited.

We may now discuss the last Imperial conference, for this afternoon the right hon.

Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) moved the adoption of the trade agreements which resulted from this conference; we certainly witnessed a brilliant display of fireworks and, tomorrow when these agreements have been examined we shall be in a better position to form an opinion concerning them. However, a very strange event took place shortly after the conference came to a close; we received Russian oil, shipped to Montreal in a Danish ship. This ship had to remain at anchor for eight days before being informed whether it might land its oil or have to return to Russia. The following is what we find in this connection in the Montreal La Presse, dated September 20, 1932.

Sarcasms in connection with the barter of Russian oil.

The free-trade press jeers at the part played by the Hon. Mr. Bennett as regards the embargo on Soviet products and states that the profits will go to Americans.

London 20.-The barter of aluminium wire manufactured by the Aluminium Co. of Canada for Russian oil gives rise to ironical comments in the free-trade press.

"The Prime Minister of Canada is to be congratulated on this barter, states the Star (of London). Mr. Bennett nearly ruined the conference at Ottawa because our representatives would not sacrifice the small amount of business we carry on with Russia. However, the Aluminium Co. at that moment was preparing to barter. .

Mr. Bennett is entitled to rejoice in seeing that this loading or unloading affords work to 3,000 Canadians who need it. We are glad to note that even Mr. Bennett can, when the occasion arises, set aside his prejudices. _

The Manchester Guardian under the heading of "Pillar of Empire," wonders whether Mr. Bennett, knew when he made his gallant stand, on the embargo on Soviet products, that Canadian manufacturers had in their pocket an order of such importance. The evidence so far to hand suggests that he did know.

This is not the only amusing fact of this most unimperial affair. A Danish and not a British vessel is chartered to carry the oil and the net profits of the transaction will find their way into the United States, for the Aluminium Co. of Canada is a subsidiary of Mr. Mellon's -the present ambassador of the United States to England-famous corporation. No wonder Mr. Bennett's nerves became a little frayed towards the close of the Imperial conference.

These are the comments of this London newspaper, in connection with this permit to import Russian oil in our beautiful Canada, after the assurance given a few days previous that never Russian products would reach our markets to compete with our oil industries.

Mr. Speaker, at the last dominion election, our province of Quebec, good-naturedly or through absent-mindedness, when blinded, as it were, with a superabundance of butter, elected nineteen Conservative members, all brilliant men and gentlemen, with a future

160 COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Mercier (St. Henri)

ahead of them, in fact all good Canadians. I shall close my remarks by appealing to the spirit of patriotism which must exist in the souls and hearts of our friends the French Canadians on the opposite side, towards our people. The French Canadian has done a great deal for Canada. We settled here as pioneers. Our forebears founded New France, the first colony in this country, at a time while Englishmen settled in New England, and took over New York. We have grown here, we have always considered ourselves at home here. In 1763, following the surrender of Canada we continued to defend our rights and, following the union of the two Canadas, we entered into the wider pact of Confederation which bound us to the other provinces and guaranteed us certain rights. We now have a civil service through which we administer all the affairs of the dominion government. I appeal to the present government, to my colleagues on the opposite side, to my good friends the nineteen French Canadian members, to see to it that the French Canadian race be given a fair deal, not only in parliament, but throughout all the civil service departments. We have but two French Canadian deputy ministers. We should have at least three or four and even more. However , when the question of appointments which are to be made in the near future, comes up, I trust that the government, convinced by all the French Canadians who at present support it, will grant to our people the quota to which they are entitled; they will then note that our race has never forfeited their good name, that it comprises talented young men who can live on an equal footing and in harmony with their English brethren, the best of them, for the good administration of all the federal service.

On motion of Mr. Maclnnis the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Bennett the house adjourned at 5.55 p.m.

Thursday, October 13, 1932

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLT
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October 12, 1932