Mr. C. N. DORION (Quebec-Montmorency) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, it is a redoubtable honour to be called upon, one of the very first, to open the debate on the Address in reply to the speech from the throne. I feel that this honour falls to the lot of the official minority of the country as well as to those kindly constituents who, in 1930, were good enough to charge me with representing them on the floor of this parliament. Heir to a mandate that so many illustrious names have made famous, that brought to this Chamber the Chauveaus, the Carons, the Fitzpatricks, the Pelletiers, the Casgrains, I should like at least as a modest disciple, to be the bearer here of something of the convictions that always guided their every act in public life. Those great public men took real pleasure in visiting as frequently as possible this riding with its twenty-five parishes scattered about the foothills of the Lauren-tides and on the lie d'Orleans, where the inhabitants, more than elsewhere, have kept intact their pride of race and the nobility of their customs. Hence it is in their name, on behalf of the thousands of workers and farmers who go to make up almost the entire voting strength of the riding, on behalf of the salaried workers and their employers, the relations between whom are at the very foundation of justice and equity, and particularly on behalf of a numerically strong, and courageous youth whose ideals are still
vibrant with the breath of life, that I intend to take part in the debate which has just begun.
It is meet that I should first express our regret at the resignation of him who, during the last four years, has presided with so much dignity and the freest independence over the deliberations of this honourable house. Always at his post, armed with a profound knowledge of parliamentary law, ever anxious to uphold for every one of the members the exercise of his rights and the enjoyment of his privileges, illness suddenly struck him at his task and forced him to retire to his member's seat. Those were the conditions under which you were called upon to succeed him, Mr. Speaker. The confidence thus shown you proves more eloquently and better than I might ever do, the extent to which your qualities are known and appreciated. Just as to your honourable predecessor we express our hope for his prompt recovery, in the same way are wafted up to you, sir, our homage and our heartiest congratulations.
It is also fitting to recall that with the year 1935 we are approaching the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Our Gracious Sovereign. The entire membership, I feel sure, will permit me to renew, in all humility, the expression of our attachment, of our loyalty and of our admiration. What a glorious reign, and how pregnant with history! What a fruitful and active career! What a series of imposing events have passed before our eyes since, on the death of Edward VII, His Majesty George V ascended the throne, and took in hand the rudder of the British Empire 1 While in other countries, throughout the universe, the most varied political systems were made and unmade, turned topsy-turvy; while here and there thrones that appeared as solid as a rock, were overthrown in tumult amid the violent shocks of revolution; while immediately after the armistice certain countries let diown their masters, laid down tlheir arms and launched headlong into the most venturesome experiments, the British Empire, thanks to Our Sovereign, thanks to wise guidance and the flexibility of British institutions, has remained intact and unshakeable.
Descendent of a Basque who, towards 1680, left France to till the soil at Charlesbourg, offspring of eight generations of ploughmen who remained faithful to their rights, to their language and to their traditions, a number of whom served as militia captains under the English regime, I am none the less proud to belong to a British nation and to have a
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share in the freedom, whose supreme safeguard, may I say, is the Royal Family. And if, at times, we Canadians of French origin, have had to fight for the maintenance of our rights; if we have had to defend our heritage against the encroachments of the conqueror, our well-intentioned English-speaking countrymen, and they are greatly in the majority, will assuredly bear witness to our unflinching fidelity to the flag, to our treaties and to the constitution of this country.
Protected by that flag, relying on the substance of those treaties, and on the spirit as well as the letter of our constitution, we will never cease to demand justice and to exact the full blossoming of our liberties. If certain bureaucrats are still tainted with a spirit of francophobia; if, in certain departments we, of French origin, are obstinately refused the representation to which we are entitled; if, in certain places there be some who persist in the attitude of conquerors, we shall never cease to recall that we are at least the descendants of those who first occupied this country and hence are entirely at home here, not only in the province of Quebec, but throughout the length and breadth of Canada, repeating to ourselves the well-known sentence uttered by our chief himself: "You, gentlemen, are true Canadians."
Before speaking these words, the right hon. Prime Minister of Canada had accomplished certain things which gave proof of his broadmindedness and which, quite properly, brought the applause of my compatriots. Despite the political partizanry of certain of our opponents, the Conservative party, with the support of such outstanding personalities as the hon. member for Labelle, enacted at the last session a bill, the purpose of which was the centralization of the federal translation services. It is pursuant to this act, that henceforth, as the hon. Solicitor General stated in Montreal, all the reports of the various departments, as also the debates of parliament, will be published simultaneously in English and in French. Of all the monuments that, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Canada, have been erected to the glory of Jacques Cartier, this law and the results it has brought us this year are assuredly the most eloquent and the best fitted to perpetuate the work and the memory of the great navigator from St. Malo.
Mr. Speaker, last week it was given us to listen to the very moving speech from the throne. With religious attention we listened to a description of the present situation in this country and to the reforms that the government fully intends to bring about. Certain
of our colleagues in this chamber have sat here for a great many years as the representatives of their constituents. I do not believe a single one of them will contradict me when I say that never, since confederation, has a speech from the throne been more imposing, more substantial, more fitted to revive confidence and to satisfy the legitimate demands of all the classes of our society. It was truly meet that the eminent statesman who, in 1931, came home from England with the Statute of Westminster, the definitive charter of our constitutional liberties, should gratify us now with another charter, no less important for the life and the salvation of our country, the great charter of our social freedom and economic liberation.
Like the more intelligent governing authorities of our time, the right honourable Prime Minister of Canada has grasped the very grave nature of the present situation. As he recalled during the very first of his series of speeches which raised to the highest peak the confidence of Canadians, and left speechless the most loquacious of our opponents, the economic system must be reformed whatever the cost: "Great changes" (I quote) "social as well as economic, have taken place in the life and in the organization of every people, grievously upsetting the operation of the established system. What we call the crash of 1929 was in reality the crash of the system: the mechanism was worn out."
A brilliant French economist, Lucien Ro-mier, has told in striking fashion the story of the evolution of capitalism, the road it has followed since the war, the disgraceful state it is falling into to-day. He recalls that in olden times credit had but one source: thrift. The undertakings thus born kept their individual or family characteristics, they were free and independent. At the head of them were to be found real employers, people who were directly interested, whose invested capital did not come from the small savings of lesser people, but was their own money, fruit, very often, of the toil and thrift of several succeeding generations.
Before launching into divers enterprises, more or less certain, before risking fortunes acquired through so much toil and honesty, they weighed things carefully and measured in advance the consequent responsibilities. Before taking a single step forward they would quietly feel with their foot the path before them, to make sure that there was no hollow space anywhere beneath, no hidden bog to entrap them.
All was measure, balance, honesty. A good reputation was as important in such under-
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takings as was the capital itself. There was no question of turning out goods beyond the consumer's needs, of setting up machinery far too costly and of a useless luxury, to experiment ceaselessly. I know of certain businesses in the city of Quebec which were founded on these methods; they have waxed wealthy thereby and during the present depression they have been a shining example. I could mention many of these men in commerce and in industry, who are well known and solidly established, who never had recourse to the thousand and one tricks that are fashionable in the world of high finance, and which the royal enquiry begun last year has shown up in all their hideousness, together with their baleful consequences.
By the side of, and to the detriment of, this sound, honest, worthy capitalism, has sprung up another form of capitalism, infinitely less appealing; it brought with it a host of fraudulent, shady tricksters, who, often under cover of our laws, have exploited the people, deceived the public, and lived opulently at their expense. In this way the multitude of individual fortunes and of independent enterprises, with their character of personal liability which was their guarantee, have been replaced little by little, by groups of capitalists, banking syndicates, industrial mergers, and combines of all kinds, sometimes, but not often, of public necessity-like the railways for instance-but generally to the direct detriment of the masses.
Under the false pretense of developing industry, of opening up natural resources, of improving trade and commerce, even those entrusted with the responsibility of government were caught in this net, offered the schemers the credit of their names, the grace of their privileges and even the help of their laws. In the province of Quebec, which was a veritable paradise for this sort of thing, our raw materials, our water-powers, forests, mineral deposits, in a word all that might ensure our well-being fell into the hands of a few people, whose sole object to-day is to exploit our population. It is with unmentionable cynicism and sans-gene that the Tas-chereau administration threw away our inheritance, in return for the appointment, as corporation directors, of several of their ministers.
In one of his speeches prime minister Tas-chereau himself gave the following figures which tell quite a story about such business methods: In 1920 we had 100 paper mills, and 109 in 1930. The production, in 1920, was valued at $100,000,000; by 1930 it had more than doubled, reaching $215,000,000. But here
is the interesting side of the story: In 1920 this industry represented an investment of only $22,000,000; but by 1930 the figure had risen to $714,000,000, some thirty-three times the original capital. A little figuring will show you that if production had increased, in 1930, in proportion to investment, it would have reached the fabulous sum of $3,245,000,000. As to salaries, there was no change whatever: In 1920, 31,000 employees
received $45,000,000; and in 1930, 33,000 employees received the same amount, $45,000,000.
To me these figures appear overwhelming. While they indicate a shameful overcapitalization, encouraged, authorized, legalized, by those entrusted with political power, they show, at the same time, to what extent such business practices are prejudicial to the workingman, and how little the latter is protected. It is exploitation not only of money-capital; it is especially, as has been said, the exploitation, or rather the enslavement, of human capital.
Last year serious trouble occurred in the Abitibi lumber camps; and a few individuals were sentenced to prison. Is it really surprising that such seditious occurrences should take place when these corporations, under cover of our laws, obtain their labour on derisive terms, take advantage of unemployment and of the supreme necessity for the worker to earn his livelihood, and really speculate on extreme poverty and human misery? To remedy such a state of things the Canadian people have never been able to rely on the disciples of Liberalism who, forgetting the facts and the pitiable state of our proletarians, prate-like Mr. Taschereau, for example- of the uselessness of all social legislation and upbraid all interference, by the state, in business.
It remained for a Conservative government to champion at last the radical remedies needed to cure these ills and to bring back to the minds of these egotists the great laws of justice and1 of social charity. The speech from the throne informs us that we shall have a Minimum Salary and Wage Act, and that the hours of labour will be strictly controlled. Contrary to the opinion of Liberal economic theorists, the old law of supply and demand is, in the matter of wages, most unfair and the cause of disorders of the worst kind. It is not sufficient to ensure the worker a certain remuneration, even if he accepts it; what must be done is to pay him a decent wage, a fair salary, one that will allow him to provide for himself and his family.
I have mentioned the paper industry to illustrate the kind of capitalism that this
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Conservative government intends to fight to the bitter end. What shall we say, now, of the innumerable corporations which go to make up the power trust, against which our own economists have launched one of the most ardent and most vigorous campaigns? In a most painstaking study Dr. Hamel, of Quebec, proved, figures in hand, that the Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company pockets a return of 70 per cent on an investment that has already been repaid four times over.
A last example among a hundred: the organization of Canada Power & Paper. With assets of $58,000,000 distributed among several companies already overcapitalized, they have found some way to set up a new company with an alleged capitalization of $168,000,000, without adding one bit to the real assets of the company or increasing their value in any way whatsoever.
This unhealthy capitalism, born of the greed for gain and the absence of all Christian spirit, has been upheld partly by the perversion of our economic system and the favour of certain legislators too irresolute or too weak-willed to react vigorously and legislate in such a way as to punish the malefactors and make them desist from their immoral practices. Last year the Conservative government made radical amendments to our federal Companies Act, made it better, more drastic, more in consonance with the immutable la-ws of justice. This year the speech from the throne takes up this theme once more. In accordance with his plan of social and economic restoration, the right hon. Prime Minister of this country intends to protect the thrifty against exploitation and to put an end to the evils which were in large measure responsible for the crisis through which we have just passed. The issuing of shares with no par value, source of the most fraudulent dealings, should be prohibited, and all who transgress the law, instead of being merely made to pay a fine, should be treated as common criminals.
The dual jurisdiction, provincial and federal, sets up very real obstacles, a problem that our legislators should strive to solve. What would be the use of our federal statutes respecting companies if speculators can still invoke our provincial legislation? Uniformity in such matters is imperative. It would be absurd to declare criminal what elsewhere would barely be thought illegal.
At the time of the inquiry into the affairs of the Beauharnois we had occasion to realize how disastrous could be the consequences oi this dual jurisdiction. Millions of dollars were literally swallowed up by this gigantic undertaking, so carefully promoted by unscrupulous financiers, and organized and brought into being through the connivance of venal politicians and thanks to the unpardonable approval of Liberal governments at Quebec and at Ottawa. As is usual in such matters, the investigation conducted by the Conservative ministry brought out the fact that part of the money taken from the people's savings had been diverted from its proper purpose, had gone to fatten campaign funds, to purchase influence and satisfy the appetites of certain friends of the party in power. Rumour has it that this same company is presently striving to obtain further privileges from the federal authorities. We have full confidence that the government, before granting this request, will exact all the necessary guarantees for the protection of what is left of the money already invested in the enterprise, and will make doubly sure that any such new powers will not further encourage the development of the Power Trust that dominates the province of Quebec.
It will always be to the honour of the Conservative government of 1930 that, with uncommon persistence, it turned the searchlight full on the darkest corners of our commerce and of our industry. Following the probe into the affairs of the Beauharnois Company, an enquiry no less interesting was ordered by the hon. minister of Labour, into the organization of the Coal Trust and the scandalous profits it had amassed on the border-line of the Act respecting combines. It is to be noted, Mr. Speaker, that this form of exploitation is not of very recent origin. On February 13th, 1923, under a Liberal administration, when the federal parliament was amending the act, the hon. member for Winnipeg denounced the trust on t'he very floor of this house, and begged the government to intervene. Despite the magnificent promises made in reply by the right hon. leader of the opposition, then Prime Minister, we had to wait for a change of government before, at long last, the voice of the people was heard, heeded and respected.
Nevertheless the inadequacy of the said Act of 1923 has been more than proven. Rather than make the guilty parties common criminals as suggested by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, the act allowed' them to avoid any unpleasantness with the courts by paying a fine which might reach as high as $25,000. Once the thing was done, the companies had merely to resume their combine practices so prejudicial to the public interest. The Coal Trust, in our province,
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has been condemned; but prices to-day are higher than ever before, and independent competitors find organization and development impossible. On this question also the speech from the throne makes precise statements which will doubtless prove very tiresome to the masters of finance, but which will surely bring rejoicing to the common people who want freedom and honesty in business.
The royal commission instituted last year and which, since that time, has pursued a relentless inquiry into the spread between production and consumption prices, has enriched the government of this country with a mass of substantial and fruitful evidence. With prejudice toward no one, but also without fear or favour, this governmental commission has done its utmost to discover the deep-lying causes of economic unrest, to bring to the searching light of day the why and the wherefores of the faulty distribution of wealth, and to provide the authorities of our country with all the information necessary for the emendation of our social and economic legislation, which thus will be brought more in consonance with the dictates of justice.
On this point, as on many another, reforms have aheady been instituted, reforms that our Canadian public have promptly taken advantage of. The Natural Products Marketing Act met with an enthusiastic reception from all classes of our population, but more particularly from the farming community, the members of which have up to now been the victims of parasitic enterprises, promoted against the interests of both producer and consumer, which strove to widen the gap between the two, and kept the cost of living abnormally high at a time when prices paid the producer were relatively low. To these reforms the Conservative government intends to add another by putting the benefits of these laws within reach of a still greater number of our citizens.
At a time of trying stress like that through which we have just passed, when nations everywhere put aside temporarily all internal dissension, we have witnessed in Canada the shocking spectacle of a narrow-minded, obstinate and, at times, senseless opposition to every governmental proposal. There must be criticism, opposition, destruction, at all costs. As was so eloquently recalled by the Prime Minister, those who under their administration had allowed the development of a false and artificial prosperity, the growth of a disgraceful and unwholesome capitalism, pushed their impudence to the extreme of trying to prevent the application of the
remedies that their very own policy had made necessary.
Mr. Speaker, if we had not had to face a faulty distribution of wealth; if wise enactments had made the organizing of trusts and monopolies impossible; if as early as 1920 the doors had been closed to immigration; if the whole system of legislation initiated by the honourable leader of the Conservative party in 1930 and continued since had been established just after the war; when the honourable leader of the opposition came into power; in short, if honourable gentlemen opposite had been equal to their task, instead of being so lavish of vain words and thoughts about the happiness of mankind or universal disarmament, I sincerely ask you: Would the depression subsequent to the crash of 1929 have occurred? Would we have had, in so rich and so vast a country in relation to its population, to suffer so severely from the crisis?
As a matter of fact our Liberal friends are prone to forget that it was in 1929, under their own regime, that illusion started! to vanish. It was indeed in 1929 that the masses became frantic, that business suddenly diminished, and that the plague of unemployment started to show its effect. The evil was done when the Conservative party came into power in 1930. However, thank God, the Canadian people had understood how serious the conditions were and called to their bedside a doctor possesed of remarkable strength and intuition. He set about the task with vigour and fully determined to overcome the evil, sparing neither his time nor his health, leaving aside all that was not in the sphere of his public duties, and risking, if need be, his popularity, better to accomplish the task which had been entrusted to him.
Commenting on the speeches which he delivered early this month, a newspaperman from L'Action Catholique, of Quebec, Mr. Eugene L'Heureux, wrote these most significant words: "Since he presides over the destinies of this Dominion, Mr. Bennett appears to us as a man uncommonly well gifted with intelligence and courage. Our sympathy for Mr. King and some of his colleagues does not prevent us from considering the present prime minister as a man uncommonly well fitted to govern in these very hard times." To those who may reproach him with his policy, we need but point out its benefits and excellent consequences in every field of national activity. If we are at last recovering; if the economic condition of the dominion improved to an unexpected degree, more especially since the last eleven months; if our farm production has increased by more
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than fifteen per cent; if our manufactures have been able to register an increase of at least eighteen per cent, we most certainly owe it to that system of agreements entered into by the various parts of the British Empire and to the various treaties that Canada made with other nations.
Employment increased by twenty-four per cent. The building trades recorded an advance of thirty-five per cent. Car loadings increased by fifteen per cent, which enabled our railways to improve their position and to raise their revenues by 11-5 per cent in the case of the Canadian National Railways, and 10-4 per cent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Our international exchanges, importations and exportations, have increased 52 per cent over last year, leaving a trade balance of more than $124,000,000 in our favour.
Logically the tendency to improvement is bound to become stronger. The Bank of Canada will undoubtedly play a great part and is bound to be of great value to us. The farmer, on his land, feels better protected against the uncertainties of life and the difficulties with which he has been left so long to struggle. The Farmers' Creditors Arrangement Act is perhaps, among the good deeds of 'this government, that which produced1 the best results, and best served to restore courage and confidence among the creditors as well as the farmers themselves. One of my constituents who took advantage of the act, assured me that for the first time in three years he felt at ease, and that he never so heartily took to his daily labour.
Last year, in that same respect, we amended the Farm Loan Act in order to facilitate loans and thus to keep on his own land the most essential worker of our economic system, I mean, the toiler of the soil.
The speech from the throne informs us that we will do still better this year. I wonder whether we should not take away the administration of this act from the provinces. This duplication of jurisdiction does not appeal to me. How many times, in Quebec, did they try to throw certain cumbersome responsibilities on the Dominion government? How many legitimate requests were denied? How many inhuman proceedings were taken against poor farmers who were temporarily unable to meet their obligations. We should have a purely federal organization, absolutely free, and above all political parties, to which the working and carrying out of that law would be left entirely.
There are probably many more suggestions just as practical which could be made in connection with this government measure and
also with many equally interesting problems. To give these problems, whether they be of a general or particular nature, a quick, adequate and really effective solution, the authorities have a right to depend on the cooperation of specialists, selected among the various business and social activities. It is with that understanding that the government informs us of the creation of a national economic council, "medium of deliverance and salvation," to use Mr. Eugene L'Heureux's words, who added the following very interesting comments in L'Action Catholique of January 16:
"An era distinguished by a more intensive and more refined production than the preceding one, but in the course of which the proportion of men being a public charge increases, is not an era of progress; it is a backward step for civilization and a disgrace for the Christian world. None but satiated egotists could tolerate such disorder. The people responsible for that disorder are certain financiers, dictators of trade and industry, tormentors of the farmers and often bribers of public institutions. Until we have taken away from pretentious and' incompetent people the control of the economic world to place it in the hands of the governing authorities acting on the advice of the best economists and sociologists of the nation brought together in an organization such as the Economic Council, that disorder will continue, with its hardships, its atrocities, its instigations to revolt. . . . That is why the prospect of an Economic Council at Ottawa really is cheerful."
The situation thus depicted by Air. L'Heu-reux, who cannot be said to be a socialist, is that which I have attempted to describe in this already very long speech of mine, and it justifies more than ever the intervention of the state and the substitution of its power to that of the money interests. With the Liberal economic doctrine we had been used to leave to the individuals some prerogatives which essentially belong to the state and to ignore certain principles of government. If the people put themselves under the authority of a concrete power, of a master, it is because they have always felt the necessity of a proper equilibrium between the various classes of their community. The great theorist of the Thom-istic school, in some pages still very much of present interest, although they were written in the thirteenth century, thus described the part of the government: " The state is the
collective power that protects the free development of the individual faculties and sees that none usurps the right of another."
The plan put forward by the honourable Prime Minister and the reforms asserted in the speech from the throne will at last enable the state to recover the part which properly is its own. It will thus more easily promote the common welfare, correcting what
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is faulty and improving what is good. No more futile opposition, opposition of words and purely of a political nature. In the exceptionally peculiar circumstances that we are going through, in the face of these proposed reforms which the whole country has welcomed with joy and enthusiasm, and which are after all the logical sequence and like the completion of the government's achievements during the last five years, under the authority of a leader whose superior intelligence and courage all independent minds are pleased to acknowledge, we must necessarily work in unison, leave aside our respective prejudices, gather together in one alliance all the men of good will in the country.
It was to the men of good will that He who was bringing to mankind a cure for its miseries was addressing His message, twenty centuries ago. He came to revise the great truths of the Decalogue, which had been too long forgotten, as in our time. They were however, just as they are to-day, the only expressions of social justice, the only ones capable of reviving in this world the thoughts of peace, justice and charity.
Let us hope that we may honour again these prescriptions and recover these fundamental notions with their full Christian meaning. Let us hope that we may contrive that the community recover its balance, that the state make use of its rights with regards to the rich and poor alike, that it be more and more the champion of the weak, of the common people, of the oppressed, the arbiter of uneven battles between the oppressor and his victims, the stern guardian or order against the forces of disorder. Let us hope that we may come back to the notion of a really humane capitalism, that shares in the moral virtues of thrift and loss, and will drive into contempt all these enterprises which persist in acting contrary to the dictates of justice.
And it is because I am confident that the reforms proposed in the speech from the throne are based upon these principles and calculated to bring happiness to our Canadian homes, that I have the honour, Mr. Speaker, of seconding the address of the bon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. W. E. ROWE AND SECONDED BY MR. C. N. D0RI0N