April 30, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Duncan Cameron Fraser



AVell, I have heard of repudiation, but never of repudiation within so short a time. I never knew a man to repudiate himself within five minutes. I distinctly cited the hon. member for Bothwell as an authority. But now, when he sees the effect of his admission, he wants to go back on it. But 1 know he will not go back on it in quiet moments when he talks it over with me, but will feel as bad as any man can for the wretched position in which he finds himself. I wish to emphasize what the hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. Grant) says. AVe had a crusade inaugurated by the manufacturers and assisted by the ex-Minister of Public AVorks (Hon. Mr. Tarte). But I venture to say that never was there a movement more ill-timed. AVhy, you cannot talk to people now of changes in the tariff with any hope of gaining their attention. They know, and all the statistics show it, that they never received as good wages before. I want to make the statement distinctly, and any hon. gentleman who lives in a place where it is not true can say so far as his locality is

concerned, that never in the history of Canada was labour so difficult to obtain, and never in the history of Canada did labour receive, one man with another, as high a wage as it does to-day.
Now, how are you going to help them to do any better ? Is the labourer, or the farmer, or the fisherman, or the lumberman fool enough, when he knows he is better off than he ever was before in this world, to go and take the plunge that bon. gentlemen want him to take in order to find something better ? Men take a plunge when they are so bad off that they cannot be any worse ; but sensible men who know that they are in a better position than ever before will let well enough alone, and will say : We are not going to take the plunge, even though these distinguished statesmen run the risk of being found shivering, cold and naked on a foreign shore, as they were up to 1896. The time is all wrong for any such a change. I read a letter the other day from a Mr. Wilson, I think his first name is Thomas, who sent me, with the letter, a paper that was designed to teach the farmers of Canada. He also wanted to teach me, because he said : Here was a paper he was issuing to teach the farmer. They start out to instruct the farmers. Very well, North Ontario gave them the first answer. We also had an election down in Yarmouth, where one of the most tremendous majorities ever given in Nova Scotia gave them another answer. Do you think, Mr. Speaker and lion, gentlemen, that we are to Be taught the truth by men who believe in that which is not the truth universal ?
Now, protection may be a good thing for one man. It may be an admirable thing for me, if I am a manufacturer of hats, and if I can get the whole market for hats in Canada. That is only protection run mad. That is a good thing for me if I am making hats. But surely it is not a good thing for every man who has to buy a hat. The truth of the matter is that we are joined together in this country, as people are in every country, in such a manner that the interests of each must be respected and conserved, so that what I give to assist one man should be repaid to me from another man, or by any number of men that are assisted. That is equity. They never made a bigger mistake. They were going to give this information to the farmers, but the farmers were too busy at work, and laughed at them.
For myself, I want to say distinctly that the present policy must be maintained. It may require some changes. Taxation ought to be adjusted to suit all, and where one manufacturer has an advantage over another, or one consumer pays more than another, an equitable adjustment must be made. I care not whether we have a protective policy or a revenue tariff policy, no one manufacturer has a right to an advantage over another, and no purchaser has
a right to purchase to the disadvantage of another. We must move, but no advance should be made to give protection to one class over another. We must move in an opposite direction. Let each man start fair in the race for life. As much as any other man, I want to see our manufactures increased, I want to see improvement in the character of their goods, in the enlargement of their output, but it must not be by making others contribute to that end. I would as strongly oppose the farmers, the fishermen, the lumbermen or any others getting an advantage over the manufacturers. We are building up a mighty west. This year a population as large as four constituencies will be added to this great land ; and I commend the words of the Minister of Finance to our energetic friends the manufacturers in that connection. If they spent their time in improving their method-increasing their skill-enlarging their outlay and securing every available market, instead of paying for costly delegations, illogical speakers and ineffective attempts to teach farmers wiser than themselves, they would find a better disposition among all classes to assist them and more tolerance for their just claims. They have, by their unwise course in raising this issue at a most unreasonable time, done more to discredit themselves than they can repair in the near future. Those who tbll them, kindly but firmly, these truths, are their best friends, and have their and the country's interests at heart more than the men who seek to gain the impossible by loudly proclaiming that with the nearly 17 per cent advantage they have, they still must call on the country to implement, by subventions, what, if rightly utilized by energy and skill, would be able to meet every competition and overcome it. I am satisfied the crusade so loudly proclaimed had not the sympathy of a large number of our best manufacturers.
I know hundreds of these men who come up here thinking that this government could be imposed upon, and that their loud cries might be taken as representing the actual condition of things in the country. At the same time the largest manufacturers in the country were doing better than ever they did before, and saying as plainly as possible that this unwise method of attempting to rush protection at such a time as this would be fraught with the disaster that it met, and well met. Now, I am accused of being against the manufacturers because I firmly say what I believe is in their best interests. No such a thing. yVe have man) ufacturers in Nova Scotia and in all the pro-1 vinces, but if after all the protection that ! was said to be given by the hon. gentlemen opposite, after eighteen years of that protection, and from 1896 to the present-take it as you will, either the same system or a very small change made, some gentlemen say a certain percentage of one per cent- if after all that time they have not gained

the experience, as I believe the largest number of them have gained, to conduct their business with profit to themselves, I do not think a large majority of the people of this country should be compelled to contribute to increase their gains. Why, Mr. Speaker, I was talking to one of the greatest manufacturers of Canada who was asked to go to a meeting of the men engaged in the trade in which he was himself engaged. He laughed and he said : Why, there will be nothing given. I am a protectionist, but they cannot get anything ; and do you know I have come to the conclusion that we ought not to get anything, and I will tell you why. Each one got up at that meeting and said : We want such and such protection. Immediately another gentleman sprung up and said : What, would you kill my business ? For that would kill my business. Then a third got up and said something else. We were all engaged in the same business, or utilizing the same article in different directions. Now, that showed me that these men are not agreed among themselves. 1 know nothing of what these delegations said or wrote. But I have a little evidence myself of a man who joined a delegation to come here to get protection and who, when he went home, wrote a friend of mine, not in this House, saying that the very thing he had to ask for by coming with the others, to make them think he was with them, would be the very thing he did not want. Oh, for a sensible condition of things, under which we would cease this attempt to make it appear that a country 4,000 miles in extent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and running close to our neighbour's for all this distance, is going to become a greater country by imposing more duties. If we must impose duties, let it be to pay for the benefits we receive. I object, Mr. Speaker, and I will object so long as I live, that the government shall be asked to give its sanction to any other man, excepting our regular tax-gatherer, who pays the money into the coffers of the government, levying taxes on the people of Canada. I will object that any man should have the authority to, in his own interests, take that which belongs to the people. The amount of it makes no difference. It is worse, of course, as it gets larger, but even if it is only a cent, it is wrong. I know that no human being can make a tariff that is uniform. I know there is no government in the world that can be perfectly equitable, but there are lines upon which we can go. Just fancy the farmers, who are at least from 65 to 70 per cent of the whole population of Canada, going to be made rich by feeding less than 15 per cent of the population, which represents the whole number of manufacturers who are engaged in manufacturing in Canada. Is that not a nice proposition ?
The hon. member for West Elgin (Mr. Robinson), a farmer of the farmers, spoke the other day. Fancy sixty-five such men Mr. FRASER.
as that-practical, gcod farmers-becoming wealthy by feeding fifteen manufacturers. There is one thing certain; either the sixty-five farmers are not good farmers or the fifteen manufacturers eat too much-that is all. One or other of these two things must be true. Now, the hon. member who spoke last said that he wanted all Canada joined together, and he did not want one class to be against the other. Did he not see that the very position he was taking of calling for more protection for the manufacturers had all the elements of setting class against class ? Do you think the farmers, the fishermen, the lumbermen and the miners are going to sit down quietly and permit the government to grant benefits to one class which they belive are going to be injurious to them ? No, the present tariff has worked well. Frankly, I think we might have gone further.

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