GIROUARD, Wilfrid, Q.C., B.C.L.

Personal Data

Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
Birth Date
September 9, 1891
Deceased Date
October 26, 1980

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Drummond--Arthabaska (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 37 of 37)

May 5, 1926

Mr. WILFRID GIROUARD (Drummond-Arthabaska) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker,

the hon. member for Norfolk-Elgin (Mr. Stansell), and previous to him, a number of members of the opposition spoke of the in-

The Budget-Mr. Girouard

terest and friendship they have for the farming class. It is always somewhat shocking to hear them express feelings which are grossly in contradiction with the deeds and the past policy of their party. In order to judge of their lack of sincerity we have but to verify the attitude taken by the Conservative party, between 1911 and 1921, towards the farming class of this country. What benefits did the farmers derive during the ten years of their administration? You are aware, Sir, that the paramount question at the general election in 1911, was the reciprocity treaty that Sir Wilfrid Laurier had succeeded in concluding with the United States, and for which the farming class had been clamouring for years. This treaty so highly advantageous to the farming community was rejected. However the Conservatives will not readily forget that the crisis they went through was principally due to the fact that the American market was closed to them. As early as 1912, the farmers bitterly clamoured for new markets for their products. We are aware that the Conservative government of that date did nothing to help them, not only did they do nothing, but they attempted to cripple the development of the dairy industry, by allowing margarine to be imported. I must say, Sir, that the farmers of my riding are very thankful to the King government for having prohibited the imports of this product. A further instance, which establishes well the lack of sincerity of the members of the opposition, is the following: At the time the King government cut down the duty on farming implements; when they wished to help the farmers so as to allow them to purchase at lower prices the articles of first necessity of which they were in need to work their farms, we witnessed the opposition having recourse to every possible means in order to prevent the farming class from benefiting by legislation which was all in its favour, and even more, we saw the hon. leader of the opposition state in this House that should he be returned to power, he would re-establish the high protective tariff. That is, the Conservative party, through the mouthpiece of its leader, undertook to abolish the advantages and favours which the King government was granting to the farming class.

Another very important feature for the farmers, the importance of which the Conservative government of the day did not understand or did not care to understand, was the necessity for the farming class to get new markets, in order to sell its products at profitable prices. The King government immediately dealt with this necessity endeavouring especially to revive the prosperity which the

farmers enjoyed previous to the Tory government of 1911. Moreover, Sir, we have as an instance of the government's desire to help the farming class, we have as an instance, I say, the last treaty they have just concluded. I mean the West Indies treaty which the King government presents to the farming class with the firm belief that this treaty will benefit them, because it guarantees to the farming class an almost absolute monopoly on the products of the farm, such as butter, cheese, potatoes and other products. Behold then, Sir, these same gentlemen who, when they were in power, could have done something to help the farming class, yet they stirred not, and they come, to-day, in this House, shamming a friendship and an interest which their deeds belie.

The budget speech, Sir, was, especially this year, anxiously awaited. There is no question, I think, which interests so much the public as the discussion of the various measures which appear in the budget. We'have the patisfaction and joy to note, ini pending this speech, that our financial situation has considerably improved. There is one thing which nobody can deny and which I may be allowed to emphasize: it is that the budget speech has had on the Canadian people a great and beneficial effect which has in some way brought sunshine and hope where hon. members of the opposition would, perhaps, like to see but despondency and misery. This budget is a proof that our country, after struggling courageously, has finally emerged from the difficult situation caused by the economic disturbance brought on by the Tories from 1911 to 1921.

From the outset of the Liberal administration, we were made aware of what would be the policy followed. In order to better appreciate the various measures announced in the budget speech, it is well to glance rapidly over the past, for it is necessary that the people of this country should everlastingly remember what was the financial and economic conditions existing when the King administration came into power in 1921.

The Conservatives contend that our debt is enormous. They never miss an occasion of proclaiming that the taxes are heavy; but why, Sir, do they not also proclaim that they are responsible for such a state, and that if we have taxes, these have become necessary because of their administration. Do they expect to make us forget that they needed but ten years to increase our debt to more than two billion dollars. I think that, if the opposition wished to be sincere, they would admit that when they assumed power in 1911,

The Budget-Mr. Girouard

the country was prosperous and when they retired, we were on the verge of ruin. It seems to me that this has some weight. However this is not all. After being returned to power, the Conservatives began to spend, without the slightest thought of economy, and'one fact shows us clearly in what manner we were governed. During the fifteen years of the Liberal rule, under Laurier, the government had only increased our debt by about $40,000,000. The Conservatives possessing, no doubt; a great aptitude for lavishly spending money, increased, in the first three years of their administration, this debt by more than $80,000,000, and I want you, Sir, to pote that this was but an inkling of what was threatening the country. A crisis, often referred to in this House, succeeded to happy days. This was so evident that the government of the day, at the outset of the session of 1914, put the following words in the mouth of His Excellency, the Governor General, in the Speech from the Throne: "that business is at a standstill owing to a financial crisis." The Conservatives acknowledging, at the time they were in power, that business was at a standstill, we can easily conceive in what difficult situation the country found itself at that time, we can without fear of being in error, state that bad times were coming. In the midst of this, war broke out.

It was, Sir, as you know a period of extravagant expenditure. We then were ruled by a government that seemed to have lost its head, an administration that seemed to do its utmost to bring ruin upon us. The ratepayers of this country had hoped at least, that once the war over, this orgy would cease. But nothing of the sort happened. The debt unceasingly increased, and the people, who in 1917 were unable to give free vent to their opinions took their revenge in 1921.

The King government assumed power, becoming heir to a much involved estate. In 1911, the country's debt amounted to about $335'000,000. Under the Tory regime it had increased two billion dollars. What the people expected from the King government, in 1921, was the balancing of our finances, and this we have succeeded in doing to-day. The budget speech cleariy shows that we have at last emerged from the difficult situation created by the Tory government. And, by the way, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that, if there is one thing which should command our sympathy, it is the anxious desire shown by our ministers to realize, for the people of this country, the hopes which they put in them. This trust

was well placed. Thanks to a strict economy, foresight and a business knowledge which had been found wanting during ten years, thanks also to the honest desire to give to all citizens legislation which suited them best, Canada has risen from its ruins and our administrators, after having met the heavy obligations which were an aftermath of the war, after having provided for the other needs of Canada, present, to-day, to the people of thi3 country a budget which shows a substantial decrease in the public debt and a cutting down in the taxes, relieves the ratepayer and tends to increase among all the hope and confidence which a few years of Liberal Tule have imparted. That hope, Sir, each year sin'ce 1921, the ratepayer feels, is growing in him. No doubt everybody understood that uuder these circumstances, the task was a difficult one for the government, and everyone equally saw, each year, that there was an improvement. The ratepayer understood that it was easier to demolish than to rebuild, that it was impossible for the King government, in so short a time, to rebuild and restore what the Conservatives had taken ten years to destroy; yet, our leaders immediately tackled the task, with the result that after but a few years, the government had succeeded beyond the hopes of our people. they had realized the dream which all cherished, that is of at last seeing the balance of our finances re-established.

Most of the hon. members who have spoken on the budget have discussed at length the duty on automobiles. I have no intention to broach that subject, however, I shall remind them that the budget also discloses a great number of measures which are equally beneficial to the public. Why do hon. members of the opposition oppose the budget? The member for Norfolk-Elgin (Mr. Stansell), a few moments ago, admitted that it was a popular budget; yet we shall see that he will be one of the first to vote against it; They, who are responsible for our financial difficulties, should be the first to applaud at the relief it brings to the ratepayers of this country.

I intend, Sir, to enumerate a few only ot the measures which have been disclosed by the budget speech. First, we note a decrease of $25,000,000 in the taxes, and at the same time the public debt is reduced by $22,3a3,000. What a difference, Sir, there is with that of the Tory administration! To cut down the taxes, decrease the public debt and obtain at the same time a substantial increase in our revenues, that seems to me what may be called good financing, a thing, perhaps, that

The Budget-Mr. Girouard

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April 6, 1926

Mr. WILFRID GIROUARD (Drummond and Arthabaska) (Translation):

Mr. Speaksr, I wish to draw the attention of the hon. Minister of Colonization to one of the clauses of the present act.

Subsection (c) of clause 2 defines crown lands as follows: "Crown lands", means any land suitable and available for settlement, lying within fifteen miles of a railway and owned by the Dominion government or any provincial government. In my county, Sir, there are three parishes inhabited by settlers who have established themselves on crown lands. These people have settled at a greater distance than fifteen miles from the railway, and, should the present legislation be adopted, according to the definition given to the term "crown lands," these settlers would be deprived of the benefits of the present act. I might add, by the way, that in the province of Quebec, if I be not mistaken, most of the settlers are established on lands located at a greater distance than fifteen miles from the railway. It, therefore, seems to me that should this legislation in its present form and as stated in Bill No. 16, carry, the province of 14011-136J

Quebec would be deprived of the benefits of this legislation.

I am aware that the west is ready to accept and admit that this distance of fifteen miles is sufficient; however, this limit must be further extended, if we wish this legislation to be beneficial to the settlers in the province of Quebec.

Again, I want to especially draw the attention of the hon. Minister of Colonization to this fact, and, I repeat it, if this bill is adopted in its present form, the province of Quebec will in no way benefit by it, and a number of settlers especially in my county, will be deprived of the benefits of this act.

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