February 2, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alan Webster Neill


Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the last speaker (Mr. Geary) upon his well reasoned and moderate speech. I should like to take a few minutes to explain briefly the vote that I propose to give upon this subject. I had thought this matter was going to be treated, as we so often treat these resolutions, in an academic spirit, and that it would be ultimately possibly withdrawn or shelved, affording a very useful opportunity for hon. members to express their views on the situation as it presents itself to them. But I understand that the matter is going to a vote and I am confronted with the necessity of voting yes or no on the resolution before us.
Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Neill
This is not a question of condemning the government for their alleged misdeeds or of applauding them for what they have done; it simply stands by itself. But in that connection I must pay some attention to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), when he spoke as follows:
What the government is trying to do is to hold together this country-to maintain its financial and industrial integrity.
When a man in the position of the Prime Minister of Canada, with the opportunities for information he possesses and must possess, uses language like that, and says further'-[DOT]
We are dangerously near the limit of this country to pay additional taxes.
-we must all pay heed and give credence to the situation as he there outlines it. There are thousands, yes, probably hundreds of thousands of people in Canada today, who, if given an opportunity tomorrow would vote for this resolution. They would vote for it as it is, not because they understand it. If they do understand it, it is not because it has ever been explained to them. They would vote for it merely as an expression of their dissatisfaction, disgust, if you like, with existing conditions, and turning to any port in a storm, they would take the only means presented to them to express that dissatisfaction. The resolution is calculated to create, let us say, a vast political cave of Adullam. We are told in Scripture that David went down into the cave of Adullam, and there resorted unto him every one that was in distress, every one that was in debt and every one that was discontented. Can we get a better epitome of the situation as it is in Canada today?
This resolution is extremely comprehensive, and that is at once its strength and its weakness, its appeal and its danger. It is comprehensive enough to take in anybody and everybody. The prince and the pauper can find a common footing. The millionaire, disgusted because he has lost one-third of his millions, and the man in the breadline who has lost his all, are equally welcome, and can find common ground for entering this political cave. Conservative and communist are alike welcome. A disillusioned workingman can meet there the millionaire or the disappointed political grafter who is turning against the party that he formerly supported. They can all meet and they will all be welcome in this political cave of Adullam.
But is it wise for us at this time to adopt the attitude of a wounded animal, which, injured by he knows not what, blindly kicks out or bites at the nearest object within his reach? I know, of course we all know, how
wide is the distress in Canada, and that the existing discontent is general and entirely justified. It would be idle to deny that. I shall admit further that the workman and the farmer have too long been the victims of the moneyed and manufacturing interests of Canada, and there is ground for saying that it is about time this condition changed. But will it improve .'the general condition of Canada to create another tyranny, somewhat similar, another class government, of course a somewhat different one from the system under whose sway we have been so long? I hardly think so.
The hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) this afternoon suggested more cooperation. Suppose we try something along that line before we go to the extreme of a cooperative commonwealth. Let us adopt a national government. We have had precedents for that in many countries throughout the world. Let us forget party politics and get together the best men on both sides. There are many things that readily suggest themselves that can be done to improve existing conditions, but I have not time to deal with them all. Last year the Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan) said, I believe-and if I am wrong I apologize-that no law could be framed to prevent the watering of stock. That is nonsense. A system could easily be found that would pass on every issue of stock by every corporation, and if it were found there was watering of stock to an improper extent at the expense of ignorant buyers, we could refuse to allow it to be issued. That evil and a very great one, could be easily checked.

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