February 26, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


Joseph Henry Harris

Conservative (1867-1942)


At six o'clock I was endeavouring to point out where we were heading in our national affairs, particularly if we continued in the direction in which we have been going during the last three years. We are asked by the so-called administration at this ume to consider the Speech from the Throne, which they would like the country to believe is going to solve some of the difficulties under which we are labouring at the present time. True, we are making progress, because Providence has seen fit to place in every one of our provinces resources of one kind or another, the use and development of which will enable us to live and to make progress.
It is suggested that we are going to deal with the situation which I had in mind previous to six o'clock by giving Canada a tariff board. The expression "tariff board" sounds very well coming from the Liberal party. The Prime Minister at Richmond Hill on September 6 stated that he was not going to protect the industries of Canada. What is he going to do? He is going to "safeguard" them. To use his own words, "the safeguarding of our established industries against conditions elsewhere which may be prejudicial to their well-being and development." That is a sort of hair-splitting between protection and safeguarding, in my opinion. But the Prime Minister does not stand alone in this proposition. At page 247 of Hansard the Minister of Agriculture said:
Why, there is hardly the splitting of a hair between an advisory tariff board and the tariff commission that my hon. friends opposite are agreeable to.

Thirteen years ago, on February 6, 1912, the Conservative party introduced a resolution to give Canada a tariff commission. I imagine I can see the Minister of Agriculture making a great ado about the Liberal party giving Canada a tariff board to safeguard our industries, although, commenting on the difference between an advisory board as proposed by hon. gentlemen opposite and the tariff commission proposed by the Tory government, he says it hardly amounts to the splitting of a hair. But out in the prairie provinces he will take credit to the government for its course in this respect. I am glad he is in his seat now, because it fills up the vacant space along the front row.
I should like to go over a few of the features of this tariff board, and at the same time I should like to ask the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) if he can remember thirteen years ago. Of course that is not very long for a young man such as the minister. I suppose he can remember that on February 8, 1912, he voted against the creation of a tariff commission. Does he carry in his mind the words falling from the lips of his deskmate for the time being over there, as reported on page 247 of Hansard, that there was not the splitting of a hair's difference between a tariff commission and an advisory board? I am quite sure the Minister of Justice will consider, along with the Prime Minister, that the safeguarding of the boot and shoe industry would be a pretty good thing for Canada at the present time. If someone would prompt his memory a little and tell him we have a boot and shoe industrj' in Canada, it might do some good.
Another feature of the tariff board which the minister stressed was that it must function as soon as possible. That prompts the suggestion that the government should withdraw the motion to adjourn until the 15th March and go ahead with business of the country. We are ready to do business. If the government want to function, why do they not start and do it? Discussing the tariff commission or tariff board the Prime Minister at Richmond Hill said that the Tories were going to set up in Ottawa another board that would cost this country a good deal and they were going to shift the responsibility over to the tariff commission, while the Liberal party wanted to accept parliamentary responsibility in the administration of our tariff affairs. The Prime Minister is n'ot alone in this; he has with him the Minister of Agriculture, who the other night told the House that this proposed tariff board would have tremendous responsibility. In this connection I want my hon. friends from Quebec

The Address-Mr. Harris
to note what I am saying, because in a moment or two I am going to say something that refers particularly to them. I am emphasizing now the responsibility of this proposed tariff board. The Minister of Agriculture said:
Nevertheless I think we can find men to act on such a board who will do their duty regardless of consequences.
Big men are wanted, mighty men are wanted, men who will asume some responsibility so that this government can hide behind that tariff board every time they want to give tariff concessions to some of their friends in this country. The idea is not that this government will assume the responsibility, but that they want to shift the responsibility on to what the Minister of Agriculture is wont to call big men. Why, he says, I think I would rather have a seat in this government than a seat on that board. I wonder why?
Perhaps there is another reason why the Minister of Agriculture would rather sit in this government than be on that board. He knows in his heart of hearts-and he gave expression to this the other evening-that forty per cent of our goods are on the free list. He says a little further down:
We have a large free list and a great many people are wondering why many of the articles it covers should not bear a certain measure of taxation.
Why is he not a little more honest; why does he not say "a certain measure of safeguard"? Why does he not go a little further and say "a certain measure of protection," and then go a little further and stand up on the platform at Regina and say what he says in this House of Commons? W'hen the Saskatchewan members, that fine looking group of men led down here by the Minister of Agriculture, review his statements with regard to this tariff board, I think that attitude will be one that they will hesitate to follow.
The Minister of Agriculture is not alone in this. This many-sided minister, the Minister of the Australian treaty, Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb), and so on, was in this House in 1912 and he voted against this tariff commission. The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald), who has been conspicuous by his absence a good deal lately, was in the House at that time and he voted against the tariff commission. I mentioned the province of Quebec a little while ago. We all have a great deal of admiration and respect for the name of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I ask my hon. friends from Quebec-and I am glad there are at least half a dozen of them here- to consider what that great chieftain had to
say about a tariff board, because when he discussed that matter in the House of Commons in 1912-and the Speaker himself will recall that he too voted against it, although I would not like to charge him with that- instead of calling it a tariff commission in accordance with the heading of the bill as it was introduced in this House, he called it a tariff board throughout almost the whole of his remarks. Like the Minister of Agriculture he knew what it was. A few of his remarks in this connection might be interesting. As reported at page 2874 of Hansard of 1912 the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier made this statement:
There is such a thing as an act and an ulterior motive to that act not to be found within the four corners of the act itself.
Has the Minister of Justice an ulterior motive in his mind? Is it the question of boots and shoes in Quebec that is behind this tariff commission? If it is not, before thi3 adjournment is granted we might get a little explanation. I do not want to be misunderstood as regards my position in this matter. I am firmly convinced, and the longer I stay here and have an opportunity of glancing now and again at the record of what is going on in this country, the more convinced I am that it is absolutely necessary, if we are to reach our destiny and hold ourselves together as a great people in this part of the northern hemisphere, that we should have protection in this country. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said a little further on:
The more we proceed with this tariff board-
Not tariff commission.
-the more it becomes apparent that we are moving in a vicious cirole.
I wonder what kind of circle the present government are moving in? They are not getting anywhere. If they want things to go ahead a little in this country, I would advise them to quit moving altogether unless they move across the floor of this House, because that is the only movement that will be of any use to Canada at the present time. This board of 1926 is one that is going to advise the ministry, that is what is left of it. I suppose it will be the ministry that will have the gaps filled up during the next few weeks, but we shall have to wait until those gaps are filled. This is what Sir Wilfrid Laurier said about the 1912 board:
To say that under such circumstances the commission should be simply under the jurisdiction of tha minister is not in accordance with the conception of the feature of the commission which would give it its greatest usefulness.
In other words, if it is going to have a usefulness, it cannot be under the minister. Yet
The Address-Mr. Harris

the board which Sir Wilfrid1 Laurier condemned in 1912 is to-day being adopted by the Liberal party. I want my hon. friends from Quebec to understand that there is no bigotry on the part of the people of Ontario with regard to them. On every platform on which it was my privilege to say a word, I was careful-and I did not need to be careful because I did it spontaneously-to say that in Canada to-day we have a fair province known as Quebec inhabited by people who were Canadians long before some of the rest of us were here, and their views and expressions of opinion should be taken into consideration in connection with everything of a national character and of interest to any of the people of Canada. That is the extent of the bigotry in that part of Toronto from which I come, which is known as Toronto-Scarborough. In every Orange hall in my riding where I have been asked to speak as a guest I have said that in the province of Quebec there were Canadians who anteceded by many generations the membership of some of these institutions. But I have yet to discover within the confines of any of these institutions or clubs any bigotry towards the province of Quebec. I say that in passing just to assure hon. gentlemen from that province that I have not been criticizing them. I am not criticizing them when I repeat the words of their late chieftain and urge the members from Quebec to be consistent in this House. I can imagine hearing some of the followers of Sir Wilfrid Laurier shouting, "Vive the Laurier policy", and I would ask them to read what their chieftain had to say in his day and generation and to act accordingly. I want to assure hon. members from that province that in the part of the country from which I come we have a great regard for the people of Quebec. We know that their ancestors were here before ours and hon. gentlemen will be here when some of us have gone to the United States to find jobs because they make it impossible for us to get them here.
Hon. gentlemen from Quebec realize that no other country will afford them the same freedom to observe their traditions, and we realize that growing up side by side with us are also our friends from Saskatchewan who no doubt are all true Canadians. We are all building up a strong race of people in this country and it is just as well for us to realize this. But I wonder how the people of Saskatchewan feel about the tariff board? Are there any disciples here of " Red Michael " from Red Deer? If there are, have they read the statesmanlike speeches that fell once from the lips of Red Michael Clark? It was not my pleasure to know that gentleman person-

ally but in my mind's eye I can see him in this House at the present time instructing one of these young sprouts from Saskatchewan. Well, Red Michael said in his day that it was the business of parliament to get at the facts for itself. Imagine, said Red Michael, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Law, Mr. Lloyd George or Mr. Asquith being told that they should appoint a commission to do those things which it was essentially the function of the government to do. I know one thing, and that is that when our friends from Saskatchewan come to talk in Regina in the course of the next few weeks there will be very little said1 about the tariff board, for I understand that tariffs are an abomination to the prairie provinces.
The tariff board proposal of 1912 was defeated not by the party that introduced it in the House of Commons, but by a Liberal majority in the Senate, and I wqluld ask the members from Saskatchewan and other remnants of the Liberal party to listen to what their chieftain of that day had to say when the proposal was finally rejected. This is what he said:
For my part I shall be glad to share the responsibility with the Senate of killing this bill. If the result of this motion is that the bill is to be killed I say to any honourable friend that it would not be an unmixed misfortune; on the contrary, in my judgment, it would be an unmixed blessing.
These were the word's of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and to>-day we find the man on whose shoulders his mantle has fallen going in the opposite direction.
We had some issues in the last election apart from the tariff question: we had the questions of transportation and- immigration and the proposal for Senate reform. And in the Speech from the Throne, while there is not a great deal said about transportation, there is reference to the Hudson Bay railway. I do not know how far that undertaking can be considered a national one or how much policy there is behind it, but the government is dealing with the Hudson Bay railway in the same way as it deals with everything else. Instead of announcing a public policy they are giving the people public works in order to remain in power. This is a public works government rather than a ptublic policy government; that is the conclusion to which I have come after watching the manoeuvres of hon. gentlemen opposite during the last four years and more particularly in the course of the last four, five or six weeks. Having failed throughout the past four years to give our Progressive friends what they wanted, the government now find themselves unable to remain in office without making some conces-

The Address-Mr. Harris
sions, and so they have had to hand a few apples to the representatives from the prairies. Somebody spoke of it as berries the other night, but I prefer to say apples; there are not many apples on the prairies. They are Obliged to give the Progressives what they want.
I should like to read two verses which have been composed under the title Perspicacity. They explain what I might call the per-spi'caciousness of this particular administration; and when I read them my friends from the west will see their significance. During the last four years they have been inhaling the perfume from the lilac bush and have been wondering how the apples they had in mind would grow on that shrub. Here are the verses:
Willie King and Robert Forke,
After four years of stormy weather,
Said Willie King to Robert Forke,
"Let us go to the people together."
And Robert drew back in great surprise, "You're a stranger, Sir," said he,
"And I will give you our support When apples grow on a lilac tree."
After that there was an election; the second verse follows:
And Willie felt very sad at heart,
The Progs were the only one,
And Robert felt quite remorseful At the terrible wrong he had done.
So bright and early after election morn,
Robert was quite surprised to see Willie King's wrecked cabinet Tying apples on a lilac tree!
Here on this sheet I hold in my hand, (Mr. Speaker, you can see a picture of a boy tying apples on the lilac tree. That, to m,v mind, illustrates the perspicaciousness of this government, and I think I might well call them the perspicacious government
Besides the Hudson Bay railway the government are going to do other things; they are going to appoint a royal commission to take care of the Maritime provinces. From my own observation during the last ten years I would say that the Maritime provinces have been bedevilled with royal commissions. Do you know, Mr. Speaker, I have sometimes thought that we should change their name and call them, the royal commission provinces? No wonder the people of the Maritime provinces rose in their might at the last general election and sent to this House such a fine body of men to firmly entrench themselves behind the right hon. leader of this party. I had no idea there were such outstanding men in the Maritimes until I saw them in this chamber.
The problems of the Maritime provinces cannot be solved by appointing a royal commission. We have arrived at the stage where
prompt action is necessary to handle the situation. Perhaps one of their biggest problems is transportation. If this government could bestir itself in connection with the Rouyn railway, should it not be able to do something for our friends in the Maritime provinces? Coal is one of the principal industries of the Maritimes, and I am given to understand that one-fifth of the people are dependent on it, while twelve per cent of the revenues of Nova Scotia are derived from coal mining royalties.
I was glad to hear the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. MacDonald) last night refer to the Duncan report. Let me tell my hon. friends from Nova Scotia that a majority of the people of Ontario with whom I have come in contact are ready to endorse the views set forth in the addendum to that report by Mr. Hume Cronyn. We in Ontario are anxious to do everything we possibly can to help our friends in the Maritime provinces. Not because Stanfields woollen industry operates down there, not because they are such a find lot of people in the Maritimes. When I was down there last January I was very well pleased with the people I met. When I remember them and the raven-haired, bright-eyed lassies I saw m Charlottetown, Pictou and other towns, I am very much disquieted to read in the newspapers that the businessmen of the Maritimes are discussing the possibilities of breaking away from the Dominion. This can point to only one thing-something is radically wrong down there. Unhappily for this country, the government is not big enough to grapple with the situation, and while they are wasting time doing nothing something of grave consequence to confederation may happen. The hon. member who preceded me this afternoon said this is a government that fiddles with royal commissions while the businessmen of the Maritimes talk secession.
Undoubtedly the time demands action. One compelling reason for the government to be alive to its responsibilities is the serious decline in the coal industry of the Maritimes. In 1913 out of a coal production of 7.000,000 tons, 2,000,000 tons was consumed in St. Lawrence ports; in 1923 this quantity had shrunk to 1,500.000 tons; in 1925 the production was cut in half, with a consumption in those ports of only 807,505 tons. The people of the Maritimes won this market for their fuel, and should be protected against the coal of West Virginia, which is mined more easily, due to the absence of gas, the natural drainage of their mines and the absence of submarine workings. The coal operators of Virginia
The Address-Mr. Harris

have the further advantage of being able to transport their product into the St. Lawrence ports at a very cheap rate. We must resist this invasion of the Nova Scotia coal market and help our people by taking requisite tariff measures. I am convinced that if the industry is allowed to decline much more it will be completely prostrated. Something definite must be done. Now, Nova Scotia coal is a pretty good article. Records were kept of tests made in 1914 and 1915 of 1,750,000 tons of coal and it was found that 8,480 pounds of Nova Scotia coal would do the same unit of work as 9,680 pounds of West Virginia coal. In other words, the Nova Scotia product was 14 per cent better than its foreign rival.
How are we to help out the situation? The Conservative party is determined that there shall be no interference with the railway commission, whatever may be the inclination of our friends across the way. Those of us in the Conservative party, if we find it necessary to help out the situation in the Maritimes or in any other part of the Dominion by giving assistance on long-haul freight costs, are willing to go ahead boldy and take the people into our confidence, and I believe they will be solidly behind us. We are also courageous enough to be prepared to take the same course if it is necessary to revise the import duties on soft coal in order that this great industry shall not be irretrievably ruined by ruthless foreign competition. I am sorry the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart) is not in his seat, for I am sure I should like to hear his views on this subject. In any event I think the people of Nova Scotia have more faith in the Conservative party than they have in our friends opposite to relieve them of the serious disabilities they are now labouring under. Where is the resolution moved by the Minister of the Interior last session for the launching of a coking scheme to supply central Canada with domestic coke to be produced from Nova Scotia coal? We have never heard anything more about it. In my humble opinion it was nothing else but a political gesture in an effort to avert the indignation of the people of Nova Scotia. If this government was really serious in putting forward that proposal why are they not now giving the people where I come from the benefit of such legislation? We want joke or coal to keep us from freezing. I say ihis in all sincerity. Last Saturday night, although I happen to be the director of a coal company that distributes 15,000 tons a year, I did not have a pound of anthracite coal left in my cellar, and I was obliged to burn coke. That is the situation generally in Toronto. I

am glad to be able to get coke to keep my furnace going, and I wish Nova Scotia coke was available in greater quantities, for I would be very glad to have it. That same night I happened to be in the home of the president of that company and I heard him tell his manager over the telephone : "If any of your neighbours are in need or distress, send your men into my cellar where there are ten or eleven tons of anthracite coal. Take it bag by bag and let these families have it to keep them from freezing. I hope by next week we shall be able to get a further supply into our yard.'' That illustrates the condition with respect to fuel in the city from which I come. That is why I make an appeal-not so much on account of Nova Scotia, although I sympathize with that province in every way-for the adoption of such a policy as will ensure a proper fuel supply within the confines of this country. I appreciate the necessities of Nova Scotia, but I say to my hon. friends from that province that Alberta is farther away from the market of central Canada than they are. I can understand the criticisms which have been indulged in in regard to the amount of expenditure upon the canals of Ontario, but I say to my hon. friends that before very long they will rally to our aid and help us to secure the deepening of the St. Lawrence waterway. When that project is an accomplished fact our canal system will be able to transport barges carrying 10,000 tons of Nova Scotia coal. That is what we are going to see in the next twenty-five years. But my hon. friends will have to lend their assistance in getting the canal system improved. When that time comes we in Ontario are going to use Nova Scotia coal for coking purposes and the resultant coke for domestic heating. That is what I hope to see accomplished as soon as we oust this government and replace them by men who are animated by the desire to develop Canadian industries.
But, Mr. Speaker, the coking scheme that we heard so much about at one time has fallen by the way, and it is not the only scheme which has met that fate. I remember hearing the Minister of the Interior state last year that the government hoped to have a shipment of Alberta coal in May or June, when there would be plenty of rolling stock available and larger cars might be had. for the purpose of making a real test of the actual cost of transportation of this fuel. I am sorry the Minister of the Interior is not in his seat so that I might inquire of him what has become of that policy. Is there any record of its having been carried out? No, we have sat here this session and heard the

77ie Address-Mr. Harris
Minister of the Interior answering questions with respect to Alberta coal, and you will find that he has passed on to the province of Alberta the onus of taking that action which the situation calls for. Later on he proposed that the matter be left to the Alberta government, but some hon. members interjected, "no." Afterwards the Minister of the Interior gave this advice to Alberta: "Go down to the railway commission and present your case to them. They are the people to tell you what the actual cost is of hauling Alberta coal to the central provinces in Canada." That is a beautiful example, to use the language employed on the hustings, of "passing the buck." That is what the present government are doing to ascertain the cost of hauling Alberta coal to Ontario.
We should like to be able to burn coal from Alberta in the province from which I come. The province of Alberta is ready to produce 14,000,000 tons of coal yearly. I am not saying that all this coal should be brought to Ontario, but I do desire to emphasize a statement which I made this afternoon: if a proper policy was adopted in this country it ought to be feasible for some of our industries to establish themselves in the vicinity of Edmonton where their power wants could be supplied from the adjacent coal fields and where they could engage in manufacturing without being subjected to undue expense in the matter of fuel. It is not so long since the city of Winnipeg was using American anthracite coal altogether. Now it is consuming large quantities of Alberta coal. One hon. member from Saskatchewan the other evening-I think he is occupjdng his seat now, but I was sorry to observe the brand of Canadian patriotism he displayed-said that one ton of American anthracite was worth two tons of the Alberta fuel that they were burning. Suppose that is the case, is it not far better to burn two tons of Alberta coal than to bring in one ton of American anthracite? That money would go to help the people who are now engaged in the coal mining industry in this country and vastly to increase the number so employed. The Dominion government, as I understand. receive a royalty from the working of the Alberta mines, and they ought to be the very first to encourage the mining industry in this country.

Topic:   OOMMlONS
Full View