March 22, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)


(Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, I rise with a natural diffidence to address for the first time the Parliament of Canada. I wish at the outset to tender to you, Sir, my congratulations quite sincerely, from a personal knowledge of your long career in Parliament and from having read, as many young men do, diligently and conscientiously the fine debates in Hansard. I must say, however, that in your elevation to the first place in the Commons we are losing one of the greatest and most powerful debaters in Parliament. .
It is not for any personal satisfaction or honour that I take part in this debate. I do so because I believe it is a duty I owe to my constituents, as it is the duty of all members of this House who come here with a definite proposal or some concrete matter to lay it before their fellow-members, who may, perhaps, not be so well informed as to the views of his constituents.
We have here, Mr. Speaker, four parties, and I have no doubt but that the addition of two of these parties will have a salutary effect upon the business and legislation of this Parliament. One calls itself the Progressive party. Notwithstanding the scathing denunciations and somewhat exaggerated terms which have been applied to our party by hon. gentlemen opposite, I submit, Mr. Speaker, that while we do not have the word progressive in our name, in all the deeds and acts of the Liberal-Conservative party as found in the pages of our country's history, progressive is expressed. Right down through our history until the 6th day of December, 1921, we find this to be so. I exclude the 6th day of December, 1921, Mr. Speaker, because I do not consider that a day to which the word "progressive" can be either conservatively or liberally applied. The 6th day of December appears to be free of political phenomena-just progressive.
I should like in the few minutes that I shall take part in this debate to avoid as much as possible covering many of the subjects, which have already been discussed at great length and in very general terms, but I cannot in duty to my own province permit this occasion to pass without a reference or two to the question of the tariff.
We are four parties in British Columbia, but we are a solid thirteen, irrespective of

The Address

party, for a protective tariff. The members from British Columbia have always supported the Macdonald Liberal-Conservative national policy, modified to that of the Laurier-Fielding policy as it has been called in this House by certain hon. members. I submit, however, that at this stage, on this 22nd of March, after listening to the various debates upon that question we can now apply the real and correct name to the tariff policy of this Government. I think the proper name would be the Gouin-Fielding tariff policy, which we heard explained a short time ago. If, however, the opinions and the sentiments of the hon. members from British Columbia, thirteen in number, are not sufficiently convincing to this Government, may I be permitted to read the words of one who leads the Liberal party in the province of British Columbia? I refer to the Liberal premier of British Columbia, "Honest" John Oliver, who has been there for a number of years. On a certain occasion he came to Ottawa, and some hon. gentlemen now present will remember that he made a keen analysis of, and somewhat denunciatory remarks upon, the proposed Liberal tariff as drawn up at the convention held here in August, 1919. It may perhaps be wearisome to hon. members to be continually listening to the reading of newspaper clippings, but this one is so pertinent, the remarks so true as they affect British Columbia, and the ideas so soundly expressed, that I believe it would be informative to the House if I read a few paragraphs. I quote from the Vancouver Province of the 7th of August, 1919; the same quotations are found in the Globe of that day. Addressing the great Liberal convention here in August, 1919, Mr. Oliver says, with respect to the tariff policy enunciated there:
If you pass this resolution as it is reported from the Committee, you are furnishing, not a weapon of defence for the Liberal party, hut a weapon of attack by which the Borden Government will successfully attack the Liberal party. In 1911 I went down to defeat in defence of the reciprocity pact. I went into that fight with my hands tied, and this resolution will have the effect of tying my hands behind my back and the backs of a great many other Liberal candidates in the next election.
And surely enough when the next election took place we found a Liberal Government in control of the legislature of the province and not participating in the election to any extent whatsoever. I am not saying that under the influence of any party bias, or prejudice; I say that to indicate to hon. members that so far as

British Columbia is concerned this is a matter of real importance. I trust, therefore, that the Government will take cognizance of the attitude of the thirteen members as well as of the Premier of the province. In the same speech Mr. Oliver continues with respect to the tariff policy which more strongly appeals to hon. members to my left:
The reasons I call this class legislation and why it is sectional and why it will put a club into the hands of our opponents, are these: Let us take one item-farm tractors. They should be on the free list, but is a tractor any more an implement of production than the power that goes into your factory or the gasoline engine that goes into the fishermen's boat or any other object? Is a plow more an implement of production to the farmer than the machinist's tools to the mechanic or the plumber's tools to the plumber? Is any one an article of production more than another?
And then Mr. Oliver continues:
You have no answer. It is not a square deal and is not Liberal.
Referring to the tariff also he says:
It is a get-by proposition and the Liberal party in this crisis should not put any get-by proposition before the people.
I think all hon. members who look at this matter frankly will realize now that the tariff platform of that time was a get-by proposition, and hon. gentlemen opposite hold their seats by virtue of the pledge of their leader at that convention. Now I find it necessary to quote one or two more lines from Mr. Oliver's speech:
You want free cement. We have three immense plants in British Columbia, all of them idle. Why put cement on the free list and not the reinforcing iron that goes into it? Is it consistently logical? What answer can you give? You have no answer.
Then he concludes with these words:
If this Liberal party has a policy at all it is a policy of justice to the masses of the people, and if you have to resort to taxation it must be put on the men who can bear the burden. I can not go before these returned soldiers who came to my office and demanded that I give up the reins of Government (and I told them I wouldn't and that I was going to give them a square deal) and say to them that I voted for a resolution that would give free gasoline for millionaires and leave the tax on the little boots and clothing that the veterans kiddies have to wear.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I realize that it is perhaps wearisome to some hon. members to listen to these quotations, but I desire to make the point that the hon. members from British Columbia and the official leader of the Liberal party in that province are against the policy enunciated by the

Standing Committees
Liberal party in that convention and which seems to have some considerable support in this House, and are in favour of the policy which they have supported consistently from the beginning to the end.
On the motion of Mr. Ladner the debate was adjourned.
At six o'clock the House adjourned without question being put, pursuant to rule.
Thursday, March 23, 1922.

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