Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver South):
I should like first of all, Mr. Speaker, to refer to an incident that happened in this house yesterday and again to-day when the Prime Minister was answering certain questions that had been asked by my hon. friend from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps). In reply, the Prime Minister stated that the intentions of the government would be manifest by their actions. We all remember that last June the Prime Minister was not quite so reticent in his replies. He was, on the contrary, very profuse and very emphatic in stating what the intentions of the government would be if he were at its head. Are we to assume that now he is in power we are not to have that frankness which he indulged in when he was in opposition?
I should not have taken up the time of the house at this stage to refer to Russia had it not been for certain remarks made by the hon. gentleman who preceded me (Mr. LaVergne) with respect to our relations with Russia. He said that chickens had a habit of coming home to roost. That is exactly what happened in connection with Russia. The chickens did come home to roost so far as the ruling class in Russia was concerned. I should like in this connection to refer to what Lord Macaulay said with reference to the civil war in Great Britain during the seventeenth century when King Charles lost his head.
I think his words are worthy of being quoted at this particular time. He said:
If it were possible that a people brought up under an intolerant and arbitrary system could subvert that system without acts of cruelty and foil}', half the objections to despotic power would be removed. We should, in that case, be compelled to acknowledge that it at least produces no pernicious effects on the intellectual and moral character of a nation. We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary. The violence of those outrages will always be proportioned to the ferocity and ignorance of the people; and the ferocity and ignorance of the people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under which they had been accustomed to live.
Is that not the case in Russia? If the Russian people were ferocious when they rose
in rebellion, it was because they had a ferocious ruling class in the first place. The same thing happened in the civil war in Great Britain. It was, as Lord Macaulay
Thus it was in our civil war. The heads of the church and state reaped only that which they had sown.
I would like my hon. friend from Mont-magny to take particular notice of that. Macaulay goes on:
The government had prohibited free discussion; it had done its best to keep the people unacquainted with their duties and their rights. The retribution was just and natural. If our rulers suffered from popular ignorance, it was because they had themselves taken away the key of knowledge. If they were assailed with blind fury, it was because they had exacted an equally blind submission.
If those remarks applied to Great Britain during that particular period, I am sure they applied equally well to Russia in the years prior to 1917. He refers to the enormity of the offence where four or five, six or seven or a dozen people were murdered and says not a word about the millions of workers who were murdered by the Czarist rulers? These were workers, and were not worthy of my right hon. friend's notice. They may kill all the working people they wish but if one of the ruling class is taken it becomes a criminal offence. In the view of the group around me the blood of the manual worker is just as precious as that of the greatest ruler in the land. He referred to the fact that we should have no dealings with Russia. As a matter of fact only a few commodities have been debarred from this country. We have not yet debarred caviare which the wealthy must have at their banquets. That commodity is allowed to enter the country fiee. At least it is allowed to come in without restrictions. We have not debarred gold. The Russian people can buy anything in this country with gold. The Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryckman) believes that the morals of the people of Canada would be corrupted if we were allowed to exchange machinery for coal, but if the same commodity is exchanged for gold our morals will not be harmed. What wonderful consistency. What wonderful logic the leading people of this government use.
Let me at this time refer to an editorial which appeared in the Vancouver Province quite recently. That is a Conservative paper, at least it gives support to the Conservative candidates. It did all within its power to defeat your humble servant at the last election. I assure you it did it's work very
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis
nicely and very subtly. I will quote briefly from this editorial as follows:
Canada has declared an economic war on Russia. That is what the order in council passed at Ottawa on Friday amounts to.
This is not the first time that Canada has made war on Russia without the courtesy of declaring war.
Several reasons are given for the passing of this remarkable order. It is stated that the government is convinced that forced labour is being used in the cutting of timber and the mining of coal. It is held that the standard of living in Russia is far below that in Canada. It is charged that the Soviet government seeks to impose its will on the world, and the statement is made that, since Canada, as a country, is opposed to communism, it must refuse to support it by interchange of trade.
Foreign trade is an entirely selfish thing.
We will all agree with that. Not only is foreign trade selfish but so is domestic trade; all trade as a matter of fact is selfish.
No country goes into it (foreign trade) with any other object than to benefit itself. Canada, as one of the half dozen or so leading trading nations of the world, should know this and should have learned by this time the recognized methods of caring for her own interests-and orders in council of the kind passed at Ottawa are not among them.
That is a quotation from a very respectable Conservative paper, but possibly it came very near the truth as to why these orders in council were passed. I have heard rumours that religious institutions in this country have brought pressure to bear on the government; those rumours may be true or may not be true. If the history of the past is any criterion I would say that it might be true. However that is not the point which is discussed by the Province:
It has been suggested that Russian timber and pulp being produced by forced labour would compete unfairly with Canadian timber and pulp. Very well. Keep them out. There are tariffs for that purpose. It has been suggested that Russian coal would take the market from Nova Scotia coal or from Welsh coal. That is a very good reason for not admitting it. But the coal Russia proposed to ship is anthracite and Canada buys from $20,000,000 to $30,000,000 worth of anthracite from the United States every year. What interest have we in protecting the Pennsylvania mine owners? Has the Smoot-Hawley tariff been so kind to us that we must rebuff a possible customer in the interests of Uncle Sam? He hasn't rebuffed Russia. Last year, while Canada's exports to Russia were falling off 50 per cent or so, American exports were growing. In fact, of the thirty-eight principal countries doing business with the United States in 1930, Russia was the only one that increased both its exports and imports.
The government may answer or they may not but is it not a fact that the reason for the embargo on Russian coal is that it may
be made possible for the American coal owners to ship their coal in here and the Canadian pulp manufacturers to ship their pulp wood to the United States. We have heard of conditions existing in the coal mines in the United States and if conditions in the mines of Russia are any worse they must be very bad indeed.
I regret that I have had to touch upon that particular subject at the moment because I believe there are other questions of more importance. It is in pursuance of that belief that I now add something to the discussion which has taken place in this house, something which has not been touched upon up to the present time. With a super-abundance of wealth such as the world has never known we find the greatest poverty that this country has experienced, and those two conditions exist side by side. That is the question we have to solve and it is one which has barely been touched upon up to the present time. Before coming to that point however there is another matter of consequence which I would like to mention. I spoke of it to certain of my colleagues in this corner; it is a matter which might occur to every new member of parliament. I refer to the seeming ineffectiveness and unbusinesslike way in which the affairs of this country are handled. They told me that in time, I would become used to this way of doing business. As a matter of fact they realize the ineffectiveness of our parliamentary methods and have become cynical. It seems to me Mr. Speaker, that if what has happened here during this week is any criterion of the expedition with which our economic ills are going to be remedied then the betterment of our conditions is indeed in the dim, distant future. Six hours and a half were taken by a vendetta between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition. I think we are all agreed that the speech of the leader of the opposition which lasted about four hours and a half was a wonderful effort and I am satisfied that if the speech of the Prime Minister was not quite as effective in achieving its purpose it was because he is a very busy man and he does not have unlimited time at his disposal for preparation. What does it all mean? Can the problems of the country be solved by such means? Here we have two gentlemen endowed with intelligence above the average-at least we would wish to believe so-who in 95 per cent of the things they would be called upon to deal with in their ordinary business relations would not have the slightest difficulty in
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis
coming to an understanding; indeed, as a matter of fact an understanding would have been arrived at before they met formally. On the directorate of the great business organizations of this country we find Conservatives and Liberals sitting side by side, and certainly they have no difficulty in the world in so directing the policies of their corporations as to fleece the rest of the community. In the other 5 per cent where there might be any differences of opinion it is safe to presume that those gentlemen of conflicting political views would quickly come to a mutually satisfactory compromise. But when we come to deal with questions of national importance the whole situation is changed, and these same Conservatives and Liberals cannot agree on any single item of business that comes before this house; what those on one side propose the others on general principles must oppose. May I say for the benefit of those whom it may interest that the faith of the people in the efficacy of parliamentary institutions to solve our national problems is on the wane. And surely if the exhibition of futility that we have witnessed since the opening of this session is appreciated by the electorate, they certainly will have need of that faith expressed in our hymn-books:
Faith that will not shrink.
Though pressed by every foe:
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I like to be appreciative; it gives one a pleasant feeling. I have perused very carefully the speech from the throne to see if it conveys anything to call for my appreciation. I tried to find in it some promise of legislation that would improve the standard of living for the poor. I did not find very much, but for the little I did find I express my appreciation to the government. True, there are vague references to old age pensions and to continued aid for technical education, but even this is predicated on the satisfactory condition of the national exchequer. Well, if the treasury is not in a prosperous condition, let me remind the Prime Minister that there is an enormous amount of wealth in this country-not potential wealth, but wealth in commodities, in usable form, which is the only wealth there Is, that is if you exclude labour, which as a matter of fact is the foundation of all wealth. In the speech from the throne I find these words and they appeal to me very much because of their terseness, and at first I thought they might mean business:
The problems which stand between us and ultimate prosperity-
"Ultimate prosperity" has not been defined, but in case the Prime Minister may forget to define it for us I am going to give him the definition now: Ultimate prosperity, as far as I am concerned, is the highest standard of living for the masses of this country that the national wealth and their own willingness to produce will provide.
The problems which stand between us and ultimate prosperity are manifold and great. To be effectually met, they must first be understood. Confusion between cause and effect will but delay their solution.
I quite agree with that. But I am fearful there is considerable confusion in this house at the moment between cause and effect. It seems to me that must be the case because I have not heard anyone trying to explain the relation between a superabundance of wealth and extreme poverty. There must be a relation between these two conditions, and unless we find that relation we might as well go home and let somebody else make the attempt.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY