Marie Joseph DEMERS

DEMERS, Marie Joseph, K.C., B.S., LL.B., B.C.L.

Personal Data

St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
Birth Date
May 31, 1871
Deceased Date
July 28, 1940

Parliamentary Career

October 16, 1906 - September 17, 1908
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)
December 6, 1921 - July 21, 1922
  St. Johns--Iberville (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 31)

June 28, 1920


Is it the intention of the Government to put on those ships the same men as were on the Niobe and the Rainbow?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Full View Permalink

May 26, 1920

1. Is Mr. J. E. Smith at present with the auditor of the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment at Montreal, the same person who- once held the position of chief accountant of that department in Ottawa?

2. What salary did he previously receive and what does he receive at present?

3. For what reason was he transferred to Montreal?

4. In what country was he born?

5. Has he seen service at the front, during the last war?

6. On whose recommendation was he appointed in Montreal?

Subtopic:   MR. J. E. SMITH.
Full View Permalink

May 25, 1920


What is the date of the report?

Topic:   EDITION"
Full View Permalink

May 25, 1920

Mr. M. J. DEMERS (fit. Johns and Iberville) :

Mr. Speaker, I will not intervene in the contest between the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen) and the member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark), because I admit I am not big enough to throw any light upon the question, for instance, whether the balance of trade should be considered in connection with the fiscal policy to be adopted by any country. I must say that after the speech of the Minister of the Interior I am more than ever in the dark as to that question of balance of trade. He told the House

that 'Germany and the United States were prosperous with a balance of trade in their favour, and that England was prosperous with an adverse balance of trade. This question has been an open one for centuries; I think that it will continue so for some few centuries to come.

The Minister of the Interior read to the House lengthy quotations from the report of a commission appointed to study economic conditions in England. The fact remains that since that report was submitted in 1918 nothing has been done to comply with the findings of the majority of the commissioners. We all know that many by-elections have since been held in England, and I do not think that the electors there approved in any shape or form of the changes proposed in that report.

I wish to refer to what the Minister of the Interior said in respect to a statement made by the member for Antigonish and Guys-borougn (Mr. Sinclair). He said that the Auditor General's Report is open to revision and investigation by the Public Accounts Committee. I would like to remind the minister that the volume containing the particular item in question was brought down only last week, so we have had no time to take it up before the Public Accounts Committee.

The question before the House is a very important one. The ground has been pretty well covered since the beginning of this debate, but there are certain matters upon which I desire to express my views. I listened with interest to the speech of the Minister of Finance, which has been awaited with curiosity, I may say with anxiety. I was disappointed in it, because I found that the most important problem that confronts us, the cost of living, had not received the least consideration from this Government. I was disappointed to a certain degree, but not to the extent of being surprised, because it is well known that the Government have done absolutely nothing to bring relief to the consumers who have suffered and are still suffering to the extent of depriving themselves of certain necessities of life. All that the Government did on that account was to create a body known as the Board of Commerce, which, in my judgment, was an absolute failure. It will be said, I know, that the problem of the cost of living is a very difficult one. We all know that; but we all know also that it is not a more difficult problem in this country than it is in other countries. We know what has been done in some other countries, and we can appreciate the good results of the drastic


measures which have elsewhere been taken against profiteers. The effect of the application of these measures, Mr. Speaker, was magic; to-day we witness a real race in the United States in the lowering of prices. England as well has taken action to fight profiteers and the high cost of living; the same is true of France and many other countries. Here we have had investigations which have shown how we have been oppressed by the profiteers in connection with the necessaries of life. It has been established that canners and packers and proprietors of refrigerating plants are madnljy responsible for the increase in the price of foodstuffs. To my mind, it would have been easy to check them by a proper and strict control of their operations and by the enactment of laws providing stern punishment for unreasonable profiteering. The Government have been warned again and again without success. Notwithstanding the negligence of the Government in that regard to date, the people of this country were expecting an announcement of some measures of relief on the occasion of the presentation of the Budget. They expected that the production of foodstuffs would be stimulated by the removal of customs duties from agricultural implements and the necessaries of life generally. They, however, failed to see anything of the kind in the speech of the Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton), and their only comfort is to learn that the Government need money and that the people will be called upon to pay the bill. Increased taxes all along-that is the only relief offered to the people in the critical situation in which we are. We all admit that Canada must meet her obligations and that for that purpose the Government must levy taxes; but the reproach that we have to make to the Government is that we are called upon to pay for extravagances and waste, and also to pay our war debt when that war debt should have been paid during the war and since by the war profiteers and not by the whole community.

The other day the Minister of Finance spoke about economy. We can hardly reconcile the strong plea he made the other day for economy with the Estimates of $12,000,000 for military expenses. We cannot share the hopes of the Minister of Finance for the future of this country when we consider the shipbuilding policy of the Government. We cannot hope for financial success in the future when we consider the railway policy of this Government. I am not a pessimist, but for me to become an optimist would require a change of Gov-

ernment. If the ministers of the Cabinet are anxious to do something for the good of the country, let them dissolve Parliament. This is the wish of the people-of farmers, soldiers, labourers and consumers-and nobody can deny that. The people are not satisfied that we were elected in normal times and by normal means, and they believe that we received only a war-time mandate, because that mandate was given in a war-time election. Why should the Government accentuate uneasiness, discontent and indignation, by refusing to comply with the general and obvious desire of the people?

The Minister of Finance is standing by protection or by what is called generally the "National Policy." I am glad that this opportunity is afforded to me to express my views on the economic question as regards this country. I am not a protectionist; I stand for the Liberal platform of 19X9 as enunciated at the Liberal convention, I am for a tariff for revenue. I want to speak frankly. If I had been in politics in 1878, I would have opposed the so-called National Policy, and I believe the situation and1 the conditions of the country in 1896, after eighteen years of that regime, would have justified my calculations.

The National Policy led the country to the verge of bankruptcy; it created large fortunes for a few privileged people; but it was detrimental to the great majority of the people of Canada. I am opposed to the so-called National Policy, although I must admit that in the framing of a fiscal policy for this country, we must take into consideration actual conditions as they were produced by such a policy. In 1893, the Liberal party pronounced itself in favour of the principle of greater freedom of trade, and to-day, the party is charged with not having fulfilled its promises in this respect. Every day we hear that the fiscal policy of the Liberal party when in power was the same as that of the Conservative party, and opponents of the Liberal party are naturally interested in trying to create that impression. It seems as if they fail to remember the great fiscal modifications brought about by the Laurier Government; they seem to forget that the Laurier Government lowered the customs duties on about 150 articles of the tariff and abolished the duties on many other articles of the tariff. They would not admit the real endeavour of the party to apply its principles, and in their appreciation of the fiscal policy of the Liberal party, they fail to take into consideration the fact that we had in this country during eighteen years previously to 1896, a regime

fM. Demers. 1

of high protection. Was the Liberal party wheen it came into power to act by revolution or by evolution? The wisdom of the leaders induced them to choose the way of moderation and good order, and the party moved on gradually towards its aim, succeeding in reaching the reciprocity treaty of 1911. The fiscal policy of the Liberal party from 1896 to 1911 has been such that not one of its followers with lower-tariff tendencies thought it necessary to withdraw his allegiance from his party during the fifteen years of the Liberal administration. There were some Liberals who left the party because of its fiscal policy, but only those who were high protectionists. It is unfair to say that there is no difference between the Liberal and the Tory fiscal policies, for everybody knows that the Liberal party fell in 1911 in trying to put its principles of a low tariff into effect. There is absolutely no justification for saying that there is no difference between the two parties when not only were promises made but the Reciprocity Treaty was effected between the United States and iCanada. In view of that treaty,

I can hardly forgive those who persist in saying there is no difference between the Liberal and the Tory party fiscal policies.

It is not worthy, it seems to me, for a public man to appear not to appreciate the differ- , ence that does exist between the two parties. The Liberal party stands by its principles. We have not changed. More than ever we believe that the application of a tariff for revenue should be the fiscal policy of this country, and that considerable reductions should be made in the tariff in the interests of the welfare and prosperity of this country.

With protection we have created large cities, but that policy has been detrimental to the farming community. Our country is mainly agricultural, and instead of establishing a policy the effect of which was to bring into the cities our young men of the country, I think it would have been far better to concentrate our energies on the development of our agricultural industry. For my part I would prefer Montreal with a population of 300,000 men and the other 300,000 on the farms, because I would be sure then that that other 300,000 would be engaged in the production of the first necessities of life. Agriculture is our principal natural resource. By high protection it has been deprived of the labour it requires to such a degree that a very serious problem has been created and is facing us at the present time. I have no hesitation in saying that because of the shortage of farm labour

our farms are producing only about half of what they could produce. This is the direct result of high protection, and we must face the situation. We must do something to improve our agricultural industry. I regret that there is nothing substantial to be found in the Budget to help relieve conditions in this vital industry. The Finance Minister should have immediately decided on the free admission of agricultural implements, and should have reached the conclusion that the Reciprocity Treaty of 1911 should be revived. The minister gives us a promise of tariff revision, but can we take his declaration as a certainty or even as a probability after the promise we had last year from another Minister of Finance of this same administration? The Finance Minister, however, has spoken of having a revision of the tariff. If such a revision ever takes place let us hope that its principle will be a tariff for revenue without a vestige of protection, for protection means privilege. We have made immense sacrifices in the past to establish the industries of this country, some of which were what I might call exotics; that is, they had to get all their materials from other countries. Some of them now are very prosperous indeed, and, due to the fact that the Government has given them such high protection, we have witnessed the scandalous spectacle of some of these industries selling their products cheaper in Europe than in Canada. I say, let these industries take care of themselves now that they are strong, and if they are to receive any protection out of the tariff, let that protection be only incidental. If we had given to agriculture the protection that has been given to other industries what a prosperous and happy population would be ours to-day. If we had had more solicitude and paid more attention to the development of our natural industries, such as mines, pulp, paper, furniture and all those industries using lumber or iron and steel as their raw materials, we would certainly have had a much more prosperous country to-day and a more contented and a happier people.

Those are my views on the fiscal question. I shall leave to other hon. members to answer the arguments of the Minister of the Interior specifically, because there are answers to give. I have given my reasons for favouring a tariff strictly for revenue, that is to say, the establishment of customs duties in order to get the money necessary for the good administration of this country.

Topic:   EDITION"
Full View Permalink

May 4, 1920


How does the minister reconcile Rule 20 of Schedule A and Rule 5 of Schedule B with paragraph 6 of section 56? The poll will be open at six o'clock, but under those two rules-

Full View Permalink