March 13, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Paul Mercier


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

Mr. Speaker: The opening of the fourteenth Parliament of Canada took place with the prescribed state ceremonies and amidst the concourse of the people mingling their voices in praise to God and our Sovereign King George V.
I highly appreciate the honour conferred by the Prime Minister in calling upon me to second the motion to the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne. This honour reflects highly upon the electors of the division of Westmount-St. Henri.
Rest assured, Mr. Speaker, that in rising amongst this distinguished assembly of the nation, I realize fully all the responsibilities which, at this moment, devolve upon me. Once my task is fulfilled my one regret will he that of not having been equal to the mission so kindly entrusted to me. I therefore beg my fellow members to be indulgent and rather attribute to my lack of parliamentary experience the deficiencies of my debut in this House.
To second in my mother tongue the motion for the Address is to seize upon a
pleasing occasion to pay homage to my Sovereign, my country, my province and my race; it is at the same time to perform a duty towards our ancestors for the heritage which we have inherited in the form of the British North America Act; it affords the thankful son an occasion to remember his native province; it moreover testifies to the return to our best traditions; it is to trace our constitutional liberties back to their origin; finally, Mr. Speaker, it is to sanction anew the official use of the French language in the debate on the Address and in the administration of the affairs of the country. General elections took place on the 6th of December last. The Meighen Government and its followers had not the satisfaction of seeing their deeds and their political programme endorsed by the people. On the contrary the Canadian people placed their trust in the Liberals, made them their authorized mandatories under the direction of a Liberal ministry, having as its leader the young and brilliant successor to Laurier, the hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King. The country welcomed the new ministry composed of distinguished statesmen, and in the true spirit of our constitution, all responsible to the people. Just as in 1896, when the Laurier ministry assumed power, the Canadian people look forward with confidence to the future, trusting in the guiding light of those who henceforth designated to safeguard our Cana-dlian traditions, direct the destinies of the country.
Within these parliamentary walls raised with such splendour from their ashes, Mr. Speaker, I feel throbbing in the elite that surround me, symbolising the nine provinces of Confederation, as it were, the anxious soul of the country. Canada is suffering from the consequence of the world-wide crisis; an epoch of heavy responsibility is its lot. Its revenues are no longer adequate to meet the national debt and to enable the federal administration to carry on. The country is anxious and suffering through unemployment; the wheels of industry are running slow. Our citizens bear up with sacrifices, proving by their quiet and dignified attitude that the solidarity in misfortunes must one day or another, earn them a better fate. As a representative of the people, I shared the intimate thoughts of my electors and with them I was most desirious to hear from the Governor General's lips, in the Speech from the Throne a message of good wishes and also the Government's pro-
The Address

The Address

termittent periods of unemployment, he has been magnanimous in his conduct. He never had the intention, as was so justly remarked the other day by one of their leaders on a delegation to Ottawa, to belittle any government, but on the contrary to co-operate to the best of his ability in the country's interest. However, in return he expects a legitimate and effective protection from the Government, a legislation which will give him hope of more favourable conditions of employment and compensation. It is with pleasure that I see that this question is under consideration and will be solved by the department to the advantage of all interested.
Justly does the Canadian workman hope, for the present Liberal Administration was born from the popular vote, and knowing its responsibilities, of an incomparable importance in our political history, it will strive for unity, right and justice.
Representing in this House an electoral division for the greater part made up of workmen, and knowing these good people, having witnessed the throbbing of their generous heart under their working blouse, I can vouch that the workman of my county, like others, understands that he has to work with the ultimate end of the greatest possible production in order to establish abundance and competition of products in the world's market. In so doing, he will have been a help to his Government, he will become the recognized artisan of the falling cost of living already but too high, the comforter of human misery.
And we on this side of the House, witnessing such a noble act on the part of the working class, shall continue to believe in the just administrative principles bequeathed by Laurier and which our party has always extolled in its programme and which the people accepted at the last general election, that is: that the individual of whatever art or trade, commerce or profession he may be, is indispensable on this earth; that classes must exist, help one another, love and respect each other in order to re-establish peace in this world and thereby assure the success and the welfare of humanity. This is, Mr. Speaker, the true doctrine; no other exists, to follow or to invent in order to make a people happy.
I admire the reference in the Speech from the Throne, which draws our attention to the fact that in the hard times we are experiencing a wise economy must be sought by all the federal departments if

we wish that Canada, burdened with heavy debts by the different administrations that have followed one another since the year 1911, meet her obligations. Official figures speak more plainly than words and sarcasm. On January the 31st, 1922, our debt amounted to more than two billions of dollars. Our current revenue on January the 31st, 1922, amounted to $318,489,889.74. The expenses incurred by the late government for the fiscal year ending on March 31st, 1921, required the enormous sum of $361,118,145.21. We must conclude, taking into account these figures, that the financial position of Canada must be judiciously looked into if we wish to maintain our national credit. It is absolutely necessary to make the best possible use of our revenue; to see that such an important problem as the railways be solved not in the interest of individuals, but in the interest of the whole country: to reduce the expenditure of the various departments to the minimum of their needs; to reclassify the Civil Service, if need be, in order to secure in every case the greatest efficiency and also that every civil servant may prove his actual usefulness by his daily labour. This economy which we are now preaching with a view to restoring our national credit, will show to the citizens of Canada that the hon. Prime Minister and his colleagues are conscious of their responsibility. No doubt, during this much confused period, they may rely on every member of this House who sincerely wishes for the prosperity of this Dominion.
Before I resume my seat, as I cast my eyes upon this 'House, I realize better now than I did at the beginning of my remarks, that it is composed of three parties. The division of the old Canadian political system into two great parties, Liberals and Conservatives, seems to have disappeared, at least for the present. The Conservative party died away, even in time of victory, and like an autumn leaf, was carried away by the passing breeze of Unionism. Since 1911, the Liberal party alone remained in existence. It remained the party of the people, of the humble and of the mighty, of the poor as well as that of the rich; untouched by the conflict of opinions which has destroyed everything else, it will live to promote the actual interests of the country.
There is a third party, named the Progressive party. At its head and in its ranks there are experienced men who are filled with the best public spirit.

The Address
The people of Canada, however, have looked at those political changes with some apprehension, but always confident in the destinies of the Liberal party and in the King Administration they look forth to the days of resurrection.

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