Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon) moved:
That the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, to offer the bumble thanks of this House to His Excellency for the gracious speech which he has been pleased to make to both houses of parliament, namely,-
To His Excellency the Right Honourable Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Governor General and Commander in Chief of the Dominion of Canada.
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament.
He said: In making this motion I desire at the same time to express my sincere accord with the remarks made on Friday last by hon. members of this house touching upon the memory of those members who passed away during the recess. I desire to express my personal appreciation of the fine tributes that were paid to the sterling qualities of my predecessor, the late member for the constituency of Brandon. I can add little, if anything, to
those tributes that have already been paid, and I would merely say that Mr. Beaubier was a worthy citizen, a man who gave good service to his country, one for whom I had a very sincere regard and whose friendship I was privileged to share. He has left behind a large circle of friends of every class and every creed.
Before going further I should like to extend my congratulations to the hon. the new leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition (Mr. Manion) upon his elevation to the leadership of a great and historic party. We all realize his heavy responsibilities, for upon his shoulders has fallen the mantle of outstandingly able men. In the discharge of his onerous duties we wish him a large measure of success, although possibly there may be some in this house who would desire that that success have its limitations! The hon. gentleman paid my constituency the honour of a visit, early in November last I think it was. I did not have the privilege of meeting him at that time, because other duties were crowding upon me; but I can say this, and I think he will corroborate what I say, that he received a warm and cordial welcome there and formed many very fine friendships.
The speech from the throne made fitting reference to the prospective visit to Canada in May next of the King and Queen of the British Empire, the King and Queen of Canada. No words of mine can adequately express the admiration and respect of the Canadian people for our beloved sovereign and their loyalty to the crown. Our minds go back to his majesty's famous broadcast on New Year's Day, 1937, which concluded with these sincere and memorable words:
My wife and I dedicate ourselves for all time to your service, and we pray that God may give us guidance and strength to follow the path that lies before us.
These are noble sentiments, and they were expressed by a sovereign who, we all feel sure, will ever play a kingly part. Somehow, whenever I think of Her Gracious Majesty, the product of a Scottish clan, those words of Tennyson's come back to me, words which I believe are as applicable to Queen Elizabeth as they were ever applicable to her illustrious predecessor, Victoria the Good:
Her court was pure, her life serene,
God gave her peace, her land reposed,
A thousand claims to reverence closed In her, as mother, wife and Queen.
I should like to express my gratitude to the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for having asked me to move this address. I regard it as a distinct honour, not to myself but to the constituency which I have been chosen to represent. I think all hon. members will agree with me that not
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for a considerable time has there been a by-election held in Canada in which interest was more intense and more widespread. The voice of Brandon constituency was interpreted, whether correctly or incorrectly, as the voice of western Canada. It was taken as a representative western constituency-one hundred miles from east to west, fifty miles from north to south, and the home of a type of people whom any member may feel honoured to represent. As far as voting strength is concerned, it is fifty-seven per cent rural and forty-three per cent urban, so that that voice may be taken as being fairly representative.
I do not think any of my western colleagues will disagree with me when I say that the constituency which I have the honour to represent has long been regarded as the crowning constituency of the west in agricultural progress. Its summer and winter fairs have won outstanding favour all over Canada. In this respect a sense of modesty almost impels me to refrain from making mention of the Royal Winter Fair at Toronto. Manitoba exhibitors sent to the Royal a few weeks ago 169 head of live stock for exhibition. Some of these animals were shown in groups, thus reducing the number of single entries to 146. Of those 146 single entries Manitoba exhibitors carried off 134 cash prizes and 12 awards. Now here is where the modesty enters in. Of those 134 cash prizes that came to Manitoba almost fifty per cent were won by farmers in my own constituency.
I make these observations, Mr. Speaker, not from an3r narrow or parochial viewpoint but as an indication of the interest that is felt by the farmers of Manitoba and the west in the new trade agreements that will presently come before this parliament, and particularly as they relate to the live stock industry. Under these trade agreements the whole tariff structure between Canada and the United States has been revised, in some cases very drastically, and in such a way that I believe every home in Canada will be benefited. Canada has made tariff adjustments on 1,489 products of the United States, and has also removed the three per cent excise tax. This means that every consumer in Canada, whether residing in the east or the west, should be able to buy his supplies more cheaply, and hence in larger quantities. On the other side the United States has lowered her tariff walls very materially as applied to 400 Canadian products. These reductions apply in marked degree to the products of the farm and of the sea. Lower tariffs on what we buy, a readier market for what we sell: the Canadian producer, it seems to me, is benefited both in his going out and his coming in.
Experienced cattle dealers have told me that they have found a distinctly healthier tone in the cattle market ever since this agreement was announced. These men are convinced, after years of experience, that the tariff reductions and the increased quota admissible to the United States, now 225,000 head, will mean a very decided impetus to our live stock development. An alert business man with an analytical complex remarked to me a few days before I left for Ottawa that, having studied this agreement, he had come to the conclusion that it was the smartest-that is the word he used-piece of business legislation enacted in Canada since confederation.
There is another side, a very significant side, to the finer relationships established by this agreement. We have been living for months past under the shadow of an impending world tragedy. We knew not when the fatal hour might strike, but of one thing we felt assured, that we are still far removed from that ideal day portrayed by Robert Burns, when-
. . . man to man the warld o'er Shall brothers be for a' that.
Under that dread shadow it is safe to say that we all became more aware of the fact that democracy was seriously threatened. We also became more aware of our own responsibility. It is a matter for profound thankfulness that after such dread suspense wiser and steadier counsels prevailed. Otherwise, instead of the king and queen coming here, as we hope they may, in time of peace, we might even now have been wading through the horrors of a world war that would have shaken civilization to its centre and possibly led to its utter annihilation.
I refer to this because the completion of trade agreements between three great democracies of the world undoubtedly constitutes a tremendous advance towards the preservation of world peace. The thought I have in mind was well expressed not long ago by the New York Tunes. I quote:
The mutual tariff concessions which have been agreed upon ought to have a beneficial effect on both American and British trade. But the real significance of the agreement goes far beyond this probable result. The treaty marks a closer union between the two most powerful democracies, achieved at a particularly decisive moment in the world's history. It increases the hope of more effective cooperation among all the democracies in defence of peace and order.
The same thought has been expressed in Toronto Saturday Night:
It is a definite move in a general drawing together of the great democracies for common
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action towards the upholding of the way of life to which those nations are dedicated. It is symbolic of an entirely new relationship between the two greatest English speaking countries.
The more we study those agreements, Mr. Speaker, the more obvious it becomes that we are very fortunate indeed in having liberal-minded statesmen, using that word in its broadest sense, of the type and temperament of the present leaders of those two great nations who, together with Mr. Cordell Hull, brought the negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Any remarks along this line might be considered incomplete if they did not contain some reference to the visit to Canada last summer of President Roosevelt. It was a significant illustration of the friendly relations which exist between two of the youngest, but at the same time two of the greatest, exponents of present day democracy. Both countries are wielding, in their own way, a strong, steadying influence in a world that is now torn by hatred and strife.
Speaking of agreements and their probable bearing on the trade of the countries involved, one naturally turns to a review of the achievements of the past, and the review is interesting. Our total imports for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1938, amounted to over 8799,000,000, an increase over the previous year of more than 8117,000,000. This was the largest total since 1931. Turning to our exports, we find an increase of about 810,500,000 over 1937, and a total of $1,084,000,000, which was the highest total since 1930, and more than twice as large as the figure for 1933. Or if we consider the increase of trade on a percentage basis, from the standpoint of declared values, using 100 as the key, we have this result:
If we consider our exports from the standpoint of physical volume, the results will be found to be approximately the same. I submit that in the face of world conditions andthe adverse trend in the United States, this
result is a wonderful endorsation of the efforts which have been made to develop world trade.
Just here let me say that we are all greatly interested in the negotiations with the West Indies, referred to in the speech from the
throne, and we agree with the hope there expressed that a new agreement will be arrived at which will be mutually beneficial to the West Indies and to Canada.
It is cheering to note that in the speech from the throne cognizance is being taken of the wheat situation in Canada. I have the honour to represent a constituency that has been long known as one of the leading wheat producing centres of the west; in fact Brandon is known in many parts of Canada as the wheat city. Our farmers were considerably disappointed last season when the price of wheat was set at 80 cents per bushel, but when the market price started to fall, eventually going below 60 cents, -they began to realize that in reality -they were receiving a bonus of twenty or more cents per bushel, and the feeling of disappointment gave way to a feeling of appreciation, in that they felt that the other parts of Canada, through their representatives in parliament and the government, were playing fair in this emergency. However, even the price of 80 cents per bushel was of little avail to those upon whose lands the' rain did not fall, who through no fault of their own had little or no wheat to sell, or to those who had a little wheat of inferior grade which had to be sold at starvation prices. The fact of the matter is that with production costs as they are to-day, and with the cost of the articles the farmer is compelled to buy twenty-five per cent greater than it was before the war, the farmer cannot raise wheat,-even if he gets the best grade, which seldom happens-pay transportation charges and other costs, and sell that wheat at 80 cents per bushel, or considerably less for the lower grades, and break even or nearly even. It is well known that for many years the grain of the western provinces has been the biggest single factor in our export trade. It is also well known- that year after year western purchases of eastern goods have coincided almost exactly with the revenue derived from the western wheat crop. I believe the Dominion Bureau of Statistics is authority for the information that in 1929, a good crop year, western Canada bought from the east goods to the value of 380 million dollars, but that in 1933, with a poor crop and low prices, those purchases were reduced to 80 millions. That is quite a drop.
In view of the difficulties experienced in the growing and marketing of wheat, therefore, I heartily agree with the Toronto Financial Post, which said:
One-quarter of our total Canadian population are entirely dependent upon the growing of wheat-another quarter are vitally concerned. Our elevator system, our railways, most of our leading companies, our huge milling and farm machinery industries have been developed on the basis of western wheat growing. Without wheat or a satisfactory substitute, one-half of Canada faces bankruptcy; a main prop is gone from our vital export trade.
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Then the Financial Post goes on to say:
A permanent policy must be developed, with all factors taken into consideration.
With that declaration I believe the western wheat growers will heartily agree. Briefly, then, for the reasons I have mentioned, together with a good many others, I believe deep interest will be aroused in this announcement contained in the speech from the throne:
Measures to assist further in the marketing of farm products will be introduced during the present session.
It is most gratifying to find in the speech from the throne a note of deep concern regarding unemployment and relief. I have the most sincere sympathy for people who are caught in the net of either of these national difficulties. To be sure, we will always have with us a considerable number of people too young and too old to be employed. We will also have with us those partly or totally disabled, through mental or physical disability, who are thus prevented from obtaining employment; and in Canada particularly we will always have seasonal unemployment. People belonging to these three groups form a large proportion of the number listed as unemployed or on relief. One task of government, and a great task of the Canadian people, is to see that unemployment, as it applies to capable men, is reduced to a minimum.
Then we come to the question of relief. The fact that over 31,000 people have been taken off relief lists at their own request-that is at the request of the adults, because this number includes children-and placed upon the land, is a hopeful sign, together with the further fact that 19,000 young men are employed in Canada right now under the farm employment plan. This does not include 2,000 placed in forestry and allied work in British Columbia-also a hopeful sign. At the same time, according to figures recently released, the grand total of all classes of persons benefiting by aid showed a substantial decrease from the year 1937.
I have always taken a deep interest in the youth of our land. When it has been possible I have never failed to lend to them a helping hand-and I do not say that in any spirit of boastfulness. This is one reason why the youth training program now being carried on appeals to me very strongly. It is giving to many of our young men and women, in a simple and inexpensive way, an opportunity the better to fit themselves for the responsibilities of life. I am delighted to find that out of over 5,000 who completed the course in 1938, forty-five per cent were placed in gainful occupations prior to November 30. That is a good record.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting two of those schools, one in the city of Brandon and a smaller one in the town of Oak Lake. May I say I was profoundly impressed with the type of training being imparted. It was of a practical kind; it was not training those young people for life in the clouds, but rather was fitting them the better to discharge the everyday responsibilities of their lives, and training them in the principles of good citizenship. No one can tell me that in the future there will not be many happier homes and a greater measure of contentment because of the good training imparted in those various schools.
If there were time, Mr. Speaker, I should like to discuss some other subjects mentioned in the speech from the throne, and particularly the work done by the Department of Agriculture in connection with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act. This work of conserving the spring flow of water for uses of stock during the year is a tremendous boon to thousands of farmers in the west, and an expansion of the area to which it applies would be a further help to many others.
Permit me to say in conclusion that although some of my remarks have applied more directly to western Canada, they are not made in any sectional spirit. I am interested in Canada as a whole. I believe, with Roger Babson, that Canada has the brightest future of any nation in the world. I was born in eastern Canada: I have always lived in Canada. I know Canada fairly well from coast to coast. I know something, too, of the aspirations of its people, and I am aware, as we must all be aware, that Kipling did not have Canada in mind when he said:
East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.
So far as Canada is concerned, east and west have already met. Central Canada, eastern Canada, and western Canada are knit together by ties of kinship and bound together by bonds of nationhood. Surely by this time we have all come to realize that that which is detrimental or beneficial to one part of Canada is, as a matter of necessity, either directly or indirectly, detrimental or beneficial to the other.
For my own part I am confident, as I saw suggested a few days ago, that eastern and western Canada working together can unite on policies which will bring back stability to the prairies and increased progress to eastern industries. Regardless of what the pessimist may say, I will still maintain that if east and west in a spirit of mutual helpfulness will agree to merge their difficulties and share
The Address-Mr. Chevrier
their triumphs, Canada will continue in the future, as in the past, a united and progressive nation, the brightest star in the British crown.
Topic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. J. E. MATTHEWS AND SECONDED BY MR. LIONEL CHEVRIER