Onésiphore TURGEON

TURGEON, The Hon. Onésiphore, B.A.

Personal Data

Gloucester (New Brunswick)
Birth Date
September 6, 1849
Deceased Date
November 18, 1944
editor, journalist

Parliamentary Career

November 7, 1900 - September 29, 1904
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)
November 3, 1904 - September 17, 1908
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)
December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)
December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
  Gloucester (New Brunswick)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 76 of 76)

April 2, 1902


(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, I shall ask the House to bear with me a few minutes more while I conclude my remarks. I think I have fairly done with the administration of the Intercolonial Railway and I shall come now to the financial situation of this country. Like most other people, Canadians are proud to know the financial standing of their country, and like from time to time to be enlightened oh public affairs. The people pay great attention of the national debt and naturally fear to see it increase. They are also much pleased to see new millions added from year to year to our imports and exports, more so when the agricultural products of the country are at stake. More than anywhere else perhaps, the public expenditure is

closely scrutinized. The electors are always anxious to know if the fiscal year will close with a welcome surplus or an unwelcome deficit. That national turn of mind might be called a social virtue, a kind of patriotism which is not without its wholesome influence upon the business of the country, the minds of members of parliament and the general administration. The Americans do not watch so closely the doings of their' congressmen, but the paramount question in the neighbouring republic is the scale of wages. If wages are high, they say that the administration is to be commended. If, on the contrary, wages are low, they say it is time for a change. Not so with us. The Canadian people are not satisfied to know if there is a surplus or a deficit in the public chest. Critical and inquisitive as they are, they will not be satisfied with the mere existence of a surplus or a deficit. A surplus of 3, 5 or $8,000,000 is always welcome, but the people want to know something more. They will inquire by what process that result was reached, and to what circumstances the surplus was due. There are different ways of piling up a surplus. A surplus is a sure sign of the prosperity of the country. If the- trade of the country is prosperous, if the balance is in our favour, the people will look favourably upon the government. If, on the other hand, the business of the country is depressed, even if there is a surplus, the people are anxious to know the cause thereof.

Under these circumstances, I may be permitted to give to the House a few figures from the financial statement so ably delivered a few days ago by the hon. Minister of Finance. He told us then that the revenue had increased to the unprecedented sum of $52,514,701. This result was reached by an increase in different sources of revenue, amongst which are to be noted the excise duties, with an increase of $450,170. The next increase is to be found in the earnings of the Intercolonial Railway, which amounted to $439,219. The receipts of the Post Office Department have been of $235,969 over those of the preceding year, notwithstanding the reduction in the postage dues. The actual receipts are already larger than they were before the reduction took place.

The above statement affords me the occasion ef commending the wise administration of the Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock). He has given us increased postal facilities, as well as a reduction of 23 per cent in the postage dues and a further reduction from 5 cents to 2 cents for all postal communications within the empire. Is it not a wonderful achievement ? The expenditure on consolidated fund has been of $46,866,367, an increase of $3,891,088 over 1890. We are then left with a surplus of $5,700,000. But the expenditure on capital account has been exceptionally high during the year, and that has resulted in a net increase in the public debt of nearly $3,000,000. This is

practically the first large increase of the public debt under the Liberal government.

Let us come now to that question of the increase of the public debt. When the Liberal government came into power, in 1896, the net debt, on the 30th June of that year, was $258,497,432.77, having increased during the same fiscal year by $5,422,505.68, for which the preceding government was partly responsible.

Now, what have been the increases in the public debt under the present government ?

1897, increase of $3,041,163.60

1898, "

2,417,802.451899, "

2,317,047.691900, decrease of

779,639.711901, increase of


giving a total increase during the five years of $9,982,570.92, which total divided by five gives an average yearly increase of the public debt of $1,996,514.18.

We are told that the Liberal government has increased the public debt. Nobody in this House will deny such a statement.

But we are in a position to show by comparison, that under the Liberal government the public debt has not increased in the same ratio as it did under the former government, and the showing is all in favour of the hon. Minister of Finance under the Liberal government.

The official records will show for the last seventeen or eighteen years of the Conservative administration an average increase of $6,563,075. Let us come now to the deficits and surpluses of the Liberal administration. In coming into office the hon. Minister of Finance had to acknowledge a deficit of $519,981.41 for the first year. Although comparatively small, part of this deficit must be credited to the old government. For that fiscal year, specially the first part of it, the hon. Minister of Finance had to comply with the obligations contracted by his predecessors in office. But the very next year, under the influence and magnetism of his genius and of his patriotic inspirations the tables were turned and the hon. minister was in a position to present the country with a surplus of $1,722,712.33.

In 1898-99, of $4,837,749 00In 1899-1900

8,054.714 51In 1900-1901

5,648,333 29

Total for five years.. ..$20,263,509.13

Deducting the deficit of $519,981.44 from the first year, we stand with a net surplus of $19,743,527.69. If we divide this last amount by 5, the number of years, we have an average surplus under the Liberal administration of $3,948,705.58.

Under what circumstances has the Minister of Finance been enabled to achieve such results ? All the public documents will tell. New industries have been established, old industries have been galvanized into life under the patriotic influence of the

Minister of Finance, and our trade has forged along by leaps and bounds.

Our total imports and exports aggregated the amount of $239,025,360 in 1895-96, and have crept to $386,903,157 in 1900-01, being an increase of $157,877,797.

Let us compare the development of our export trade during the last five years of the Conservative government and we have the following figures : *

1891- 92

$241,369,4431892- 93

247,638,6201893- 94

240,999,8891894- 95

224,420,4851895- 96 239,025,369

Butter exports for the lirst five years of the Laurier regime :

1896- 97

$2,253,4811897- 98

2,523,6641898- 99

4,025,4051899- 1900

5,429,5631900- 1901

3,355,197Total $17,587,310

Under the wise administration of the Laurier government in the short period of five years, from the butter exports alone, twelve million dollars more found their way into the pockets of the farmers of this country.

Let us look now into the cheese industry.

Total for the five years....$1,193,453,797

How slow, to say the least, has been the trade development during these years ! Let us see now what have been our imports and exports during the five years of the Liberal administration :

1896- 97 .

1897- 98 .

1898- 99 .

1899- 1900

1900- 1901

Exports of cheese for the last five years of the Laurier regime :

Total for five years $i;651,726,204

The total trade of the country during the five years of administration of the present government has exceeded by five hundred million dollars the total trade of the last

1896- 97..

1897- 98..

1898- 99..

1899- 1900

1900- 1901

five years of the Conservative regime. I leave it to the House and the country to draw the conclusion.

A great cause of rejoicing is the fact that this large increase in our exports has been most marked in the agricultural products. The agriculturist has a fair share in the marvellous expansion of our exports during the last five years. The non. Minister of Agriculture has bent all his energies towards promoting the agricultural prosperity of Canada. To him we must give credit for those transportation facilities and the establishment of a complete system of cold storage by which the farmers of the country have been greatly benefited. No wonder they are grateful for what he has done.

Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to give the House and the country a few more figures that are interesting to those of us who are representing rural constituencies. Let us look at the butter exports, so largely increased by the perfected system of cold storage established by the lion. Minister of Agriculture, and let us compare these exports with those of the last five years of the Conservative administration.

Butter exports for the last five years under the Conservative regime :

1891- 92..

1892- 93..

1893- 94..

1894- 95..

1895- 96..


There is a difference of thirty millions in favour of the Laurier regime.

We have an increase of thirty million dollars for cheese ; and an increase of twelve million dollars for butter.

It was during a period of such great business activity and progress that the government piled up surpluses to the tune of $19,743,527.69, or an average yearly surplus of $3,948,705.58.

But we are reminded that the Conservatives also had their surpluses. True, but as I have just shown, those surpluses were piled up while our import and export trade went on declining, and those results were brought about through violent means, and by protection which kept increasing from year to year, and to such a point that Sir Leonard Tilley, the then Minister of Finance, a truly patriotic statesman, foresaw that the moment could come when the country could no longer bear a greater load of taxation. The trouble .then was that manufacturers would always look to the government for an increase of duties and a further measure of protection, instead of relying upon their own strength and spirit of enterprise, and equipping themselves so as to meet foreign competition.

Before resuming my seat-for I see that I have spoken at greater length than I intended-I crave the indulgence of the House for a few moments more, while I say a few words of comment upon the motion of the hon. leader of the opposition. It reads :

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March 28, 1901


and charity-to the honour of the British nation, and the comfort of the rest of the Christian world, and of Canada in particular.

Mr. Speaker, it seems that I should have ere this made special mention of the eulogy of our moist beloved and regretted Queen Victoria, by the right hon. leader of the government. My reticence, Mr. Speaker, is owing to the fact that dit is a monument which, in the depth of my admiration, a sense of delicacy forbids me to touch. It is a monument which we are better able to contemplate than to describe. Nevertheless, one particular popular passion is stimulated by the consideration of that great speech.

It is the jealousy of the Canadian people, in the depth of their affection, of their admiration of the great sovereign who has been called away, a jealousy which forbids one to believe that another loved her more, admired her more than he did; that one can be more grateful than he for the immense benefactions she has been pleased to pour upon Canada during the happy days of her long and glorious reign. Upon him-the orator of the Canadian people- upon him alone was bestowed the providential gift of a language adequate to his feelings of appreciation of her great Virtues and noble deeds. To each and every one of us belongs the just, undeniable claim to nurse in silence and modesty, the same sentiments of love, of loyalty, of gratitude- the same wishes for the welfare of her empire under the sovereignty of her worthy son and his successors. Oh, Victoria ! you have prayed for your subjects on the day of your coronation, and your prayers have complacently brought down divine blessings upon your territories. Pray yet further from a higher throne, and from this continent of America, from this soil of Canada, the prayers of your French Catholic subjects will meet yours in heaven.

It was under such favourable conditions of peace, harmony, and prosperity, with opening industries, and with trade extending with gigantic strides, that the hon. Minister of Finance was called upon the other day to reveal to the Canadian people the true state of their public affairs. Great things had already been achieved by the hon. gentleman upon whom the duty devolved of looking after our home requirements, and our fiscal and trade relations with other countries. He had reached unprecedented results by his inspired combination of loyalty with figures, by his mingled gratitude and generosity in his compounding of dollars and cents, of pounds, shillings and pence, which was to establish our commercial and trade relations with the mother country.

It has been the good fortune of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, when the voice of the people placed in his hands the care of our destinies, realizing his situation, and the expectations of our mingled community, finding that he had

to form a government strong in upright and honest diplomacy, able to cope with the exigencies of the hour, and the requirements of the country, to have called to his assistance men whose well-known talent and ability were already a guarantee to the people, and to have been in a position to distribute to each of them the branch of the administration for which he was particularly well qualified.

It is owing to his intelligent distribution of offices to his colleagues that the country has been in,1 the happy position of contemplating during the last three or four years, a series of eloquent surpluses of revenue over expenditure. I say eloquent surpluses, because they do not give us a mere mathematical subtraction of the amount of expenditure from the larger amount of revenue, but because his figures give us also, in their infallible language, the story of the great prosperity of the country, coupled with an unprecedented increase of trade.

In his budget speech, delivered on the 14th of the month, the hon. Minister of Finance was able to show a surplus of $8,054,714.51. which, added to the two previous surpluses of 1898 and 1899, form a total of surpluses since 1896 of $14,615,075. Deducting from this amount a deficit of $519,981 for the year 1896, partly due to the Conservative administration, we have a net amount of surpluses of $14,095,144 over the ordinary expenditure of the government.

During the last year the government have had to meet large expenses on capital account. They have had to provide for an amount of $7,468,843 for public works, government railways, railway subsidies, subsidy to the Crow's Nest Pass Railway. Notwithstanding all this expenditure, the public debt, instead of being increased, has been decreased by $779,639. The net debt of Canada on June 39, 1899, was $286,273,440, while the net debt on .Tune 30, 1900, was $265,493,S06.

Besides this extraordinary state of affairs for the past years during the administration of the present government, the Minister of Finance also declares to us that in his calculations for the current year, he expects a revenue of $52,750,000. and a probable expenditure of $46,400,000. He is, therefore, in a position to expect, at the end of the current exercise, another surplus of $6,350,000. His happy calculations of the past are a guarantee for his future expectations.

Now, having considered the history of the revenues and the expenditures during the term of the administration, the intelligent citizen of Canada naturally turns his attention to the state of the public debt under the same administration. This administration has only been in existence for four fiscal years, and bere is w'hait the intelligent citizen finds. He finds that the increase of the national debt has been :

In 1896-7 $3,041,163

" 1897-8 2,417,802

" 1898-9 2,317,047

In 1899-1900, the public debt lias been reduced by $779,000. So, the total increase during the four years has been $S,9S6,373, which is an average yearly increase of $1,749,000 for the four years.

Our intelligent citizen will then turn his attention to the trade of the country, to the growth of this trade, and the increase which he anticipates to a certain extent by the happy methods of our farmers, the happy turn of our mechanics, the jubilant feelings of our traders. He looks at the amount of the trade in 1897, when Sir Wilfrid Laurier established his tariff for revenue, after having lowered the tariff on 157 articles of importation. He finds that the volume of our trade in 1896 was $239,000.000, and he finds that four years later, at the end of the last fiscal year, it had reached the amount of $381,000,000, an increase of $142,000,000 in four years only, or an average yearly increase of $35,500,000.

He finds that our farmers are doing more business and making more money. For he finds also by the budget speech that during the last three years the exportations of the products of our farms to foreign markets have increased by $54,000,000.

The intelligent Canadian citizen will go further in his investigations, and he will inquire into the rate of taxation. The Hon. Minister of Finance by his budget speech shows that, taking as a basis the importations for consumption and duties imposed upon them, the proportion of duties *collected in 1896 was 19 "28 per cent, while the proportion of duties collected in 1900, was only 15U8 per cent, or a difference of 2-30 per cent, or one-eighth of all taxes.

But, Mr. Speaker, our opponents claim that if we have surpluses, we also have increased the public debt, and that the Conservative party, in the first years of their administration, likewise had surpluses. The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell), speaking on this subject the other night, referred in eulogistic terms, to the Conservative administration under the late Sir Leonard Tilley. Sir Leonard Tilley, he said, had in 1883 a surplus of $6,316,000, and in 1884 had come before parliament with another surplus of $7,064,492, or, as the hon. member for Pictou makes it, a total of $8,073,492. That achievement, said the hon. gentleman, had eclipsed the brilliant record which our present Finance Minister was able to lay before parliament on the 14th instant.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not behind the hon. gentleman in my admiration of the late Sir Leonard Tilley, for I know well the patriotic sentiments and tender feelings of this distinguished statesman, of whom the province of New Brunswick is proud. But for all that, I can hardly believe that had

Sir Leonard Tilley continued in office he would have been able to repeat these surpluses. On the contrary, I do not believe that he could have avoided the deficits which his successors had to face, unless perhaps he could have shown himself possessed of a stronger power of resistance to the clamours and pressure of the manufacturers.

But, Mr. Speaker, surpluses of similar amounts may have been produced under dissimilar circumstances. Surpluses may be produced by different causes, and with different effects.

We have seen the circumstances under which the surpluses of our present Minister of Finance have been arrived at. Under a state of unexampled prosperity, and unexampled increase of trade, an increase of trade which has leaped in four years from $239,000,000 to $381,000,000. Our present surpluses have been brought about by an immense increase of trade following a general decrease" of tariff. Our present tariff is so framed as to open new markets, foreign markets to the products of the country, and above all to the products of the farmer which have proved an increase in the foreign markets only of $54,000,000 during the last four years. In a state of prosperity, and with plenty of money, our people have imported more largely. An immense amount of importation of goods has followed, producing a corresponding increase of revenue, while the percentage of taxation has been decreased by one-eighth, or more, as I have already stated.

But, Mr. Speaker, under what circumstances did the Conservative party raise their surpluses ? Were their surpluses the sequel of a large increase of trade in the country ? Decidedly no. For we find that during the eighteen years of Conservative administration the volume of our trade, which was $203,000,000 in 1880, had only reached $239,000,000 in 1896, a total increase in sixteen years of thirty-six millions, or an average yearly increase of $2,250,000. Whereas our trade increased by $142,000,000 in four years, their trade increased by thirty-six millions in sixteen years.

What then was the cause of their surpluses ? Their surpluses were due, therefore, to an increase of taxation upon the same amount of trade. They were due to an increase of tariff upon the same amount of imports. The taxable power [DOT] of the country was drained, and the surpluses of the first few years were necessarily followed by a series of deficits, which their financiers were impotent to redeem or to stop.

But our adversaries will tell us again : ' You have increased the public debt.' Our reply is simple. The public debt during the four years of the administration of our friends has received a total increase of $6,986,373, or an average yearly increase of Mr. TURGEON.

$1,746,593, while the returns of the Conservative administration show an average yearly increase of over $6,500,000 during the sixteen years of their administration.

Our hon. friends opposite lay considerable stress on the government continuing, instead of decreasing expenditure, and reducing the public debt. Well, we all know that while there is no desire on the part of our people to see the public debt increase, they are too intelligent not to understand that we must first see that the commerce of the country, our avenues of commerce, and our facilities for expansion, are improved as much as possible. I have the honour to represent the constituency of Gloucester in which there is a mixed population. In 1896 the people of that county had not yet gained confidence in the Liberal party, but after four years experience of the administration of this government, they gave expression to their confidence in the present policy and administration, by returning me by a majority of 1,000 votes but four, although I had been defeated in 1898. This is proof positive of the satisfaction of the people of that county, at any rate, with the present order of things, and I am convinced that it is not their desire that the government should neglect the wants of the country in order to reduce the public debt. We believe in a policy of opening up new avenues of trade, of improving our facilities for the transportation of grain from the west, and I have seen with pleasure, during the last few days, hon. members opposite, joining with the supporters of the government in voting millions of dollars for the improvements of the .great harbours and lakes and seaports of this country. We have voted and are prepared to vote liberally for such improvements.

The Department of Fisheries is one which has also been well looked after by the present government. I say it in all sincerity that the present government has shown every interest in the requirements of the fisheries and in looking after the wants of our fishermen, engaged in that most arduous of pursuits, and who contribute so largely to the revenues of the country.

I have been in a position to see the results of some of the expenditures for the improvement of our harbours and to provide protection for the fishermen of my own and neighbouring counties. But the further attention of the government is required in that direction. The chief pursuit of my constituents is in the deep-sea fishery. The government cannot pay too serious attention to the requirements of that hardy and industrious class. We have seen with pleasure the introduction by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries in various counties of the maritime provinces of the system of bait refrigeration. I hope that the hon. minister will not slacken in his efforts until that

system is established along the whole coast of the maritime provinces and in the counties of Gaspe and Bonaventure, in the neighbouring province of Quebec. The system will prove of great benefit, not merely to the fishermen,%by saving their time, but to the country at large, through the increased catch the fishermen will be able to procure during the season. Much time is now lost in looking after bait. Our fishermen, returning at the end of the week, must occupy a great part of Monday in securing fresh bait. With the new system, they will be able to attend to the fishing alone, while their sons will be able to look after the procuring of the bait and seasoning it ready for the use of the fishermen when they are ready to start out on Monday morning. I should he derelict in my duty if I did not commend this improvement with the strongest words at my command, on this first occasion of my addressing this honourable House, or, indeed, addressing any audience except my own people, among whom I have lived for thirty years, and whom I am accustomed to address in the language of my heart and without the difficulty I find in using the English tongue. X hope the government will continue to have at heart the interests of our fishermen. During the four years of their administration, this government has done much by the construction of breakwaters and wharfs to protect not only the property but the lives of our fishermen. While speaking on this subject, I cannot but refer to the great storm of the 13th of September last, when thirty-seven of our most useful citizens, noble, generous sons, and faithful husbands and worthy fathers, whose sole ambition was to work for the Christian education of their children, true representatives of that simple spirit of Christianity which has always prevailed in that community, fell victims to the fury of the waves. But, while we were compelled to witness a spectacle, which, perhaps, a man could not endure to see twice in a lifetime, we had the consolation of knowing that, owing to the improvements made by the government, owing to the deepening of the channel, instead of being compelled to go twenty-five or fifty miles around Miscou Island, many fishermen were able to make the harbour and so find shelter and safety, where otherwise they must inevitably have shared the death of their comrades. Some sixty or seventy-five men who would have lost their lives on that memorable day were able to enter the harbour. Fifteen minutes later and they must have perished. While I ask the government to continue their attention to the interests of the fishermen of the maritime provinces, I should fail in my duty if I did not express the thanks of my people to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries and also to the Minister of Public Works for the construction of break-waters and other improvements to facilitate the

work of our fishermen and protect their lives and property.

Mr. Speaker, I did not intend to claim so long the attention of this honourable House. But I feel that I have one more duty to perform before I can take my seat and before I can return to my constituents. As the first French-speaking member who has had the honour to raise his voice in this parliament since the noble utterance of the Minister of Customs (Hon. Mr. Paterson) the other evening as to the position of the French Canadians and the Liberal party and his splendid eulogy of our beloved leader. I cannot but express my sincere thanks, my appreciation and admiration of his noble words for the encouragement of the French Canadian population. I shall not attempt to speak for the French Canadians of the province of Quebec. They will, no doubt, express their views at the first opportunity. But, as the only French-speaking member from the maritime provinces who will address the House in this debate-as my hon. friend from Ivent, N.B. (Mr. LeBlanc). X understand, will not have the opportunity, as the debate must close in a few hours- I must speak on behalf of my fellow-French Acadians. Knowing their sentiments, knowing their gratitude for British institutions and the treatment they have received under those institutions, I must thank the Minister of Customs for his eloquent expression of the feeling which I know he entertains and to .assure him that the good feeling which has so long existed will be improved and strengthened by his noble and eloquent words. He has*. I am sure, by those words, endeared himself to every French Acadian. The harmony that was restored centuries ago still remains undisturbed, and the sentiments expressed by the Minister of Customs are cherished in the hearts of my people. From this day, I know, we shall be able to contemplate with joy and hope the fact that we have six 'millions of souls from the Atlantic to the Pacific, French Canadian, French Acadian, English, Scotch, and Irish-Catholics and Protestants-working together for the welfare of the community, devoted to the prosperity of the country, united by a spirit of Christian brotherhood and with faith in the future of Canada under British institutions. X must say also that the words of the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) are greatly appreciated by the French Acadians of the maritime provinces, and that owing to the sentiments expressed by that hon. gentleman and by the Minister of Customs, the French Acadians will be more essentially British in the future than in the past. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. members of this House for the patient hearing that has been accorded me.

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