March 23, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Alfred Edgar MacLean


Mr. MacLEAN (Prince, P.E.I.):

Previous to the election some of my Progressive friends did me the honour to suggest that possibly I might let my name go before their convention as their candidate. I appreciated the honour very much, but believing that possibly within the lines of the Liberal party we could achieve our ends and get as good legislation in the interests of our agriculturists as in any other party, I could not accede to their request. I was only too glad to take up the fight for the good old Liberal party again, and I am glad to say that in a three-cornered contest we were able to win with the largest majority that was ever rolled up in the history of that constituency.
Now, Sir, I have every sympathy with the views advanced by our Progressive friends on the opposite side of the House. I know they have their own difficulties, and I understand their desire to improve their marketing conditions. They are to-day, I believe, asking for a Wheat Board, and if I understood the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) aright yesterday, I think he tabled a memorandum on that subject. We are willing to give our Progressive friends every assistance. If the establishment of such a board is equitable, just and right, it is only fair that they should have it. I am not conversant with every phase of the subject, but I am eager to

learn, and I shall be glad if our Progressive friends will give us on this side of the House every information in relation to the subject so that we may be able to discuss it intelligently and endeavour to understand their viewpoint.
Down in the Maritime provinces we have our own difficulties to overcome, as has been pointed out by previous speakers in this debate. Our natural market is the New England States, and we would naturally desire to sell our products there whenever possible. Just to give an illustration of how we are handicapped in the matter of trade at the present time on account of the Emergency Tariff which was put in force by the United States about a year ago, I might cite one or two experiences that have been encountered. First of all let me say that I have pointed out to our people at home that no party in Canada can remove that Emergency Tariff; it is up to the United States to say when they will remove that barrier and let our products enter that market, and we can hardly expect them to do it until they are good and ready. But here, for example, is what we are up against in the province of Prince Edward Island. We enjoy a large trade in potatoes, but this year we are obliged, when shipping potatoes to the American markets, to pay a duty of 25 cents a bushel. This money had to be paid at the port of entry in American funds before the produce would be received for shipment. Yet in the face of that handicap the Seed Potato Growers' Association shipped to the United States over 160 carloads of potatoes. We also produce in Prince Edward Island a large number of lambs which we are obliged to market each fall; and last year we could get a better price for our lambs in the American market, even after paying $1 per head duty, than we could elsewhere. I think these illustrations should cause our friends who opposed the reciprocity agreement in 1911 to realize what an injury the rejection of that agreement was to the Maritime provinces at least. If there is any province in this fair Dominion that would be benefited by such an agreement it is the province of Prince Edward Island. I think the same thing applies with equal force to the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
It has been said on different occasions that our channels of trade should run east and west, but for our province the natural channel is in the other direction; and we

The Address
have lost money every year when we could not sell our surplus products in the United States market. Despite this fact various politicians have been making efforts to divert our trade from its natural channel. Of course, the law of supply and demand exercises an important influence in trade matters, and in years when there is a crop shortage at home we may find a market in Canada. Generally speaking, however, when we have a full crop there is no possibility of our selling our surplus products in the home market. Past history therefore has not substantiated the theory that the building up of manufactories in Canada can be depended upon to provide a home market for our products.
I do not know that I need to discuss the immigration question at any length. I believe this country of ours has within its borders at the present time about all the people that we can handle and support to the best advantage. There is one thing, however, that I would like to touch upon: For some years past we have had railway harvest excursions from the Maritime provinces to the West which have induced a large number of our young people to leave home. In the West they obtained a few months' work, but I am sorry to say that our Progressive and farmer friends there do not go in for mixed farming to the extent that they perhaps ought to do, and failing to get employment upon the farm many of these young folks from the East have drifted to the large cities of the West and joined the great ranks of the unemployed. The result of this process is that the Maritime provinces are being, to a certain extent, depopulated. Hence I question whether this policy of running excursions from the East to the West is one that should be continued; perhaps the western provinces might find labour closer home and the present policy of draining the eastern provinces of young men might be discontinued. As to immigration I think the immigrants brought to this country should be very carefully selected.
It would seem that one has to be very careful in making remarks upon the Civil Service Commission-it is a very delicate subject to speak about. The ex-Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton) brought the hon. members for Halifax to task for having appointed a committee from their constituency to deal with civil service organization. The civil service system is possibly a good thing carried too far, but the question is, has it in the past been fairly administrated in the best interests of the
country? Our friends opposite, when they came into power, indulged in wholesale dismissals. The vacancies thus created were not filled upon merit but in accordance with record of the appointees as good party workers and good party men in their respective ridings. Immediately afterwards, when all positions were filled with their friends, the Civil Service Act was invoked and the lid was nailed down with respect to future appointments, which was not a fair deal. To give fair effect to the Civil Service Act all public positions throughout the Dominion should have been vacated and refilled on the basis of merit, after passing a successful examination.

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