March 1, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)


I said, in the province of Saskatchewan. At any rate, the dairy farmers and the mixed farmers of this country have not been getting a square deal from this gov-
The Budget-Mr. Cotnam

eminent. The farmers of my constituency have not been getting a square deal from them, and I submit the time has come when the government should look after the interests of our own farmers first and not the interests of the farmers of Australia and New Zealand. This government, through their ratification of the Australian trade agreement, have practically turned the Dominion of Canada into an importer, so far at least as butter is concerned. Whereas we had an exportable surplus of 24,000,000 pounds of butter in the year 1925, this year, according to this report from which I have read, this country will be importing in the neighbourhood of 10,000,000 pounds of butter, to the detriment of the dairy farmers of Canada. In order to give concessions to automobile parts manufacturers and to the pulp and paper industries of the country, the government penalized the dairy farmers. They also penalized the consumers, for whom their hearts bleed so often, making them pay, instead of a duty of two-thirds of a cent per pound on raisins, a duty of three cents per pound. The result is that we have brought in no more Australian raisins, but about 40,000,000 pounds last year from the United States, to the great disadvantage of the bakers and consumers of Canada. I received circulars from bakers in my town pointing out that on account of the increase in the price of raisins they were compelled to pay so much more for their product that they had to take the additional sum out of their own pockets because they could not raise the price of their product. The fact is that the consumers of Canada paid last year in round figures $1,500,000 more than they should have done in order to make possible the trade agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia for which the people of this Dominion received practically nothing in return. The Conservative party in this house fought that Australian treaty in 1925 and again in 1926. Indeed, the ex-member for South Oxford brought in an amendment to the budget calling on the government to repudiate the treaty.
Another gentleman came to my riding during the election to tell the electors how to vote. I refer to the present Canadian minister at Washington, a man who could not get a constituency of his own in the country. A man who could not represent the people of one constituency is sent by this government to represent all Canada at Washington. I wonder where he got his mandate, and what was the reason for his appointment. I listened to him as he tried to explain at that meeting how it was that the agricultural implement business had not been interfered with by

the tariff tinkering of this government. He did not tell the people that he got back in protection, through drawbacks, as much as he had or more than he had before, while the little fellow was obliged to pay for the concessions which were made to allow the Massey Harris implement works to carry on. Exactly the same method was adopted in connection with the automobile industry when the duty was lowered on automobiles.
Then last, but by no means least, we had in my riding the Prime Minister himself in the year 1926. I shall always be pleased, and I am sure the people of that constituency will also at all times be pleased, to receive with open arms the Prime Minister of this country, to whatever party he may belong, because we hold the office in high respect. The Prime Minister received a nice bouquet of roses and had a sweet little girl to kiss, but, apart from that, I do not know that he did very much harm or very much good to the cause he represented. He had with him, however, a gentleman whom I will not name but who did us a great deal of good. This gentleman came forward and said, " When in the whole history of this Dominion, or of any other country for that matter, had a man ever received back from the government a cheque for $300 on account of income tax? Well, I had the pleasure of receiving such a cheque the other day as a result of the Robb budget." The people in that constituency, the working people, the masses who are earning not more than five, six or seven hundred dollars a year, came to the conclusion that if that man could receive $300 back from the government on income tax he was well able to pay it into the revenue of the country. They said, " We do not want a government like that; they have retained the sales tax and taken the tax off the little fellow who is earning his $2 or $2.50 per day." In other words, I guess I had the experience of the hon. member for North Huron, and I would just like to add this word of warning to the government for the future. Apparently the people of this country are afraid of the cabinet, when they hunt in packs; if only one appeared it might be all right, but when they run together the people say as the Duke of Wellington said before Waterloo, "They scare me." The voters of that riding and the voters of North Huron were scared of them when they ran in packs.
I wish to draw one matter to the attention of the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot), again following the lead of the hon. member for North Huron. I believe it is a crying shame and disgrace to this country to-day that our rural mail carriers do not receive

The Budget-Mr. Cotnam
more remuneration for the services they render. I have several of these men in my constituency, and I am sure every rural member will agree with me when I say that these men are inadequately paid for the work they do. They face storms and all kinds of weather, travelling over all kinds of roads in order to give the people of this country a mail service, and surely there should be some way of devising a system whereby these mail carriers might receive adequate remuneration for the work they do. I do hope the Postmaster General will find some means of dealing with that problem.
There is just one other matter about which I would like to speak. I think the Minister of Finance first started the cry that the Conservative party stands for higher, higher and still higher protection; I heard the minister make that statement in this house last year and the year before, and as he spoke his voice went up the scale accordingly. Last year and this year I find the Minister of Railways and Canals joining in the same duet; yesterday in the house he stated that this was a part of the policy of the Conservative party -which it is not. This party is not asking and never has asked for higher protection; the Conservative party is asking for a square deal for the Canadian people. We believe that we should have a tariff sufficient to protect the farmers, the labouring people and the great masses of the people, and we believe that a tariff so adjusted and so modified as to give no one an undue advantage will work for the benefit of this country. We do not advocate a high tariff; an adequate tariff is what we desire. We do not ask it for the manufacturers alone but for every class and section of this country, and it is because this government has no fixed fiscal policy that we are to-day floundering in our present condition. We have a tariff board, which was appointed by this government, and how is that board composed? First we had an ex-minister of railways as chairman. Where did he learn anything about matters pertaining to the tariff? For the present chairman of the board we have an ex-lobbyist for the old Mackenzie and Mann interests which were once predominant in this country. What do we get from this tariff board? They have been in existence over a year and a half and we have had absolutely nothing from them; they are simply acting as a buffer between this government and the people, to give the government something behind which they can hide.
And then the Minister of Finance tells the people it is necessary to economize. Why, Mr. Speaker, I always thought economy, like charity, began at home. I should think it
would be up to this government to give the people a few object lessons in economy. The minister says the watchwords must be work and thrift, but the people in my constituency cannot work any harder and they cannot be any thriftier; the farmers and labourers get up at four or five o'clock in the morning, long before the Minister of Finance stirs from his comfortable bed; they work all through the day with perhaps an hour for lnuch and sometimes continue far into the night. It takes them sixteen or eighteen hours a day to make a living and to keep things going.

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