DISCOURS ÉLECTORAL DU CHEF DU PARTI PROGRESSISTE-CONSERVATEUR CANADIEN
Date: 25 avril 1957
Après 22 années passées dans l'opposition, le Parti progressiste-conservateur du Canada frappe aux portes du pouvoir au printemps 1957. Le 25 avril, leur chef, John Diefenbaker, prononce un important discours électoral au Massey Hall de Toronto. Il y résume les grandes lignes d'un programme qu'un gouvernement progressiste-conservateur défendrait advenant son élection. De fait, les Tories prendront le pouvoir le 10 juin et formeront un gouvernement minoritaire.
Sélection et mise en page par l'équipe de Perspective monde
To me it is a most inspiring experience to face an audience such as this. My fellow Canadians, at the commencement of this national campaign you have come here to hear discussed the issues of the day. You have come here to have us lay before you a policy, a Canadian policy, to provide for an equality of rights everywhere in Canada and in every province in Canada.
I have no apologies for beginning this campaign in the City of Toronto, where, as you have said, Mr. Prime Minister, as a boy I lived in East York, My father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather were born in this Province.
I have here on this platform with me men and women who will, in the days ahead, represent their respective constituencies in the House of Commons. Many of the outstanding Members in that House have been from the Province of Ontario. Over the years I have wondered why it was that Toronto was not represented in the Cabinet of Canada. You, Mr. Metro Mayor, stated a moment ago that it had no representation. I bring you up to the moment. It has tonight because of the fact that Mr. St. Laurent knew that this gathering was going to take place in the City of Toronto. Well, last minute repentances do not pay dividends in public affairs.
I want to make one reference to what you said, Mr. Prime Minister, in reference to the women. We have outstanding women representatives in Parliament in this Party. You mentioned the contribution that they have made through the opportunity provided by this Party. In this audience, there are a vast number of women this evening, women of this nation representing over 51% of the voting power. Nationally, Canada is behind every other democratic nation in the world in that regard, in having no woman representative in the Cabinet. When we form a government, the women of Canada will be represented in the Cabinet.
Another feature of the representation of candidates on this platform is the number of men of various racial origins, who give answer to those of the Liberal Party, who, over the years, have contended that we in this Party are not regardful of those who come from other countries. There are no second-class babies in Canada, in the Pickersgill tradition, insofar as this Party is concerned.
Before speaking seriously on other things, may I say this - that when I listened to the story that you told this evening, Mr. Chairman, regarding some of the vicissitudes of campaigning, and you spoke of the fact that the Prime Minister was never final in his decision as to the doubtfulness of a voter, I should tell you of an experience that is recorded of me in 1940.
In the dying days of a campaign in a small town in Saskatchewan, it was suggested that I should call on Mrs. "X" and she might support me. I did - she said she would - and as I was leaving I turned to her and said, "And I hope your husband will support me, too." She said - "Support you! He hasn't supported me for the last seven years."
I am now going to deal for a short time this evening with some of the responsibilities of this Party as I see them today. I shall not endeavour to cover all, but only a portion of the Program, that we intend to place before the Canadian people, I shall not cover the area that was so well covered by the Prime Minister. To him and to Mr. Metro Mayor go my thanks and appreciation for the welcome extended to us. I am of those who believe that this Party has a sacred trust, a trust in accordance with the traditions of Macdonald. It has an appointment today with destiny, to plan and to build for a greater Canada. It has a sacred trust handed down to us in the tradition of Macdonald to bring about that Canada which is founded on a spirit of brotherhood, vision and faith, one Canada, with equality of opportunity for every citizen and equality for every province from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
What I intend to do this evening is to bring before you a few salient principles - principles that will guide us in the days ahead - principles upon which we will stand, and whereby we will endeavour to place before the Canadian people, not a policy of criticism alone, but one based on the needs of the present, the building of one Canada.
[I] We believe there can be no national unity in this nation until there is a realization that Federal-Provincial matters have handcuffed the provinces of this nation, have denied municipalities adequate sources of revenue, have placed provinces and municipalities in the position where they cannot discharge their constitutional responsibility or promote the necessary development within their own territorial confines of the Natural Resources which we possess. We believe that the Provinces and the Municipalities must have the financial resources to carry out those responsibilities. We believe in the Federal system of government. We believe its preservation is essential to Canadian unity. We believe that the Federal system is today being challenged by the centralization complex of the St. Laurent Government, and that a healthy division and balance of revenues, as between the Federal and Provincial Governments, must be assured.
Instead of going into detail, I will say this, and elaborate on another occasion, that we intend, on forming a government, immediately to convene a Dominion-Provincial Conference to bring about a settlement of these problems, not in a spirit of arrogant domination, as displayed by the present government, but in a spirit of unity and amity, with mutual tolerance and respect. In order to assure the economic development of this country, we intend to launch a National Policy of development in the Northern areas which may be called the New Frontier Policy. Macdonald was concerned with opening the West. We are concerned with developments in the Provinces with provincial cooperation, and in our Northern Frontier in particular. The North, with all its vast resources of hidden wealth, the wonder and the challenge of the North must become our national consciousness. All that is needed, as I see it today, is an imaginative policy that will open its doors to Canadian initiative and enterprise. We believe in a positive National Policy of development, in contrast with the negative and haphazard one of today. We believe that the welfare of Canada demands the adoption of such a policy, which will develop our Natural Resources for the maximum benefit of all parts of Canada, - a policy which will encourage more processing of Canada's raw materials in Canada, and will foster a greater financial participation by Canadians. In short, we believe that Canadians must recognize that Canada's economic policy shall ensure and preserve for the people of Canada, and for future generations of Canada, the control of our economic destiny. That we believe.
A reading of the pages of history shows that the loss of a nation's economic destiny may lead to the same fate politically. Without going into more detail, we renounce the doctrine that was enunciated in the House of Commons a few years ago regarding the St. Lawrence Waterway project which we accepted and supported. A Minister appointed today, (Mr. Chevrier), speaking then, said that one of the great advantages of the St. Lawrence Waterway would be that it would make possible conveyance of iron-ore from Canada to the great iron mills of the United States, which were all within a few miles' reach of the Great Lakes. That, to us, is a Canada Last Policy. That is a policy which not only permits but which advocates that our irreplaceable resources should be processed to a major extent outside of Canada.
I hope this evening to quote in some detail from a recent editorial in the Financial Post regarding Foreign Investment, showing that foreign investment in Canada now amounts to 65% of the national income, whereas the highest percentage touched by the United States at any time, as she was dependent on investment, was 15%. In common with all Canadians, and I underline what I am about to say, we welcome Foreign Investment. We do not want to see it discouraged. But, I say this, - as Canadians, a sense of national destiny for Canada calls for that investment being directed to the maximum benefit for Canada. I go farther than that - I quote the words of the Financial Post which I have just referred to, when it said this:
«How long, with the growing dominance of foreign-owned enterprises, Canada can continue a separate existence is the problem before Canada today.»
We believe that Canada has a function to provide, and the state has that function, to provide a climate and initiative, but we believe the time has come to give to Canadians under the law, and under the Income Tax Law, the same rights as foreign corporations have that come into Canada and risk their capital. We believe that there should be strong incentives in the Income Tax Act for Canadians to invest in Canadian equity stock.
We believe that the discriminatory method of taxing Canadian oil companies should be changed  so that Canadians are not at a disadvantage in competition with foreign investors. We believe that tax reductions should be permitted in research, in order to encourage Canadian research in every field. And we contend, and I am sure men and women in every party of this nation will agree with this, that the present unjustifiable and excessive rates of taxation must end - that taxation must be reduced, and that it is time to take the unrepentant Tax Masters at Ottawa off the backs of the Canadian people.
Talk about inflation. The St. Laurent Government's excuse for the action that they have taken, which has been ineffective, is that you and I can't be trusted to spend our own money. They seem to believe, some of those Ivory Tower Boys, that if you spend your money it makes inflation, but if they take it from you and spend it no harm is done, Yes, I summarize our views in connection with taxation in but a few words. We believe that action must be taken now. We believe there can be no justification for Canadians being overtaxed to the extent of approximately $120 for every four-member family in this nation over and above what the Government requires for all the costs of defence and civil administration.
I say this to you, that when we form the government of this country we will immediately all a session of Parliament to reduce taxation in Canada for the benefit of Canadians.
I must hurry on and merely outline a few generalities at this time, in view of the hour. Our next step in connection with a National Development plan is that we believe that Canada needs increased population if her development is to keep pace with her vast resources. To that end, we will undertake a vigorous Immigration Policy in cooperation with the provinces to bring to Canada immigrants with needed skills and resources. We will revise the Immigration Act and Regulations. We will overhaul its administration to ensure that humanity will be considered and put an end to the bureaucratic interpretation which keeps out of Canada many potentially good citizens.
We will assure the farmer his fair share of the national income by maintaining a flexible Price Support Program. I underline the word flexible to ensure an adequate parity for Agricultural Producers based on a Fair Price cost relationship. I will go into that on another occasion. It represents, in general, the viewpoint of organized Agriculture across Canada. It represents the experience of every other country with a free economy in Agriculture. It represents a need at this time if Agriculture is to take its proper place in this nation.
Finally, we believe in the encouragement of competition in Business. We will act to that end and will curb the dangers of monopoly, as for an instance, in connection with TV Broadcasting and Air Transportation.
One other matter I want to refer to - that is to small Businessmen in this Nation. We in this Party believe that they are entitled to more consideration than they are receiving now. They need assistance. That has been proven in the United States of America. That is a demand within their own country. We say, insofar as small business is concerned, that we will undertake to set up a committee composed of members of the Cabinet and representatives of small business associations from all parts of Canada to recommend the necessary effective action to be taken in that regard. I had intended this evening to deal at length with Labour. That will have to remain for another occasion, along with many other matters that you wish to hear discussed. But I would be remiss, even at this late hour, if I did not return to rediscuss something that affects the freedom of Canadians everywhere. I mean that institution that is one of the three pillars of democracy - those pillars being the Canadian People, the Canadian Provinces and the Canadian Parliament. I speak now of Parliament - I speak with my colleagues here from the House of Commons, Parliament - the place that I love; Parliament that represents in its essence the preservation of our freedom. What things have been done to Parliament in recent years? In the British tradition of democracy, the Cabinet is constitutionally responsible to the elected representatives in Parliament. Such government, such responsibility (and I make this appeal to those who in the past have supported the Liberal Party) such government is, in every sense, of and by and for the people.
There was a time when I used to go to the Galleries of the House of Commons as a young man. I saw Meighen, and Borden, and King, and Lapointe. Parliament - what does it mean in the Liberal tradition? There was a time when that Party was militant, true to its faith in the cause of Freedom. I remember Mr. Lapointe using these words, and I underline them now:
"The first duty of Parliament is to remain a Parliament, not to become a subservient and ornamental body.”
It is subservient today with its majority, but it isn't ornamental. Yes - it is the will of Parliament, not that of a government, that is the will of the nation. The sovereignty of the people is delegated to Parliament, not to the Executive. When I say "Parliament", it means the minority as well as the majority in Parliament, Those were the views that are no longer held by those who profess Liberalism. The Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet have repeatedly looked at themselves and spoken of themselves as the sole interpreter of the will of the nation. Parliament - how many of you have sat in the Gallery of the House of Commons? If you have been there, you will have seen that great institution treated with shocking contempt, sorely wounded, robbed of its rights, its independence gone, usurped by a few Ministers who treat the rest of the Cabinet as juniors, and members of all Parties as though they were not entitled to be there.
I have seen the progressive restriction of the supremacy of Parliament in the last ten years. I have seen Parliament bludgeoned, and I say that is no pipe-dream. Bludgeoned by a majority. I have seen the hands of the Cabinet directing members and disciplining them into an abject servility, My friends, there is an issue that transcends all others - the preservation of freedom, its maintenance, the restoration of Parliament, and above everything else in that connection, an imperative and immediate necessity of a return to the Two-Party system in this country if freedom is to be preserved and political democracy maintained.
I love Parliament. I have said that before. I am one of those who does not form personal antagonisms with others who sit opposite to me. I hope I shall continue in that. But I witnessed scenes - my colleagues here witnessed scenes - that deny anything like it ever having taken place in the history of a democracy. We say we will restore Parliament. Closure has its use. We have now found what its abuse means. ["Closure"] We shall abolish closure to guard against its abuse in the days ahead.
[Senate] One further step we shall take in connection with a major responsibility of restoring Parliament is to make the Senate effective. To that end, we intend to call a Dominion-Provincial Conference for the purpose of having recommendations made which will make that body an effective one in the democracy of our country.
One word in regard to Social Security. The Prime Minister of Ontario has just said that human betterment is of the essence of Government. Much will be said of Social Security during this campaign. We intend to maintain all Social Security measures. We intend to maintain a standard to keep pace with a rising productivity of this nation. In Parliament and outside, we have condemned the rneagre and niggardly assistance given to Old Age Pensioners, by the increase of 20 cents a day, which leaves them in a position where they have less purchasing power than they had in 1951. And the same position applies to the War Pensioners and also to the retired Civil Servants.
In connection with Social Security we propose to set a figure high enough to meet the needs of our older citizens, and to make necessary adjustments thereafter on a cast of living basis, My mind goes back to my early days in East York, .Mr. Prime Minister, the first time I saw this building, when I was a boy travelling on the hurricane deck of a refuse wagon from Todmorden. I believe I know the needs of the average man and woman, My pledge to you is that you will receive adequate and fair treatment in keeping with the responsibilities of the state to assure a reasonable equality to all our citizens.
In this opening meeting of the campaign, the first of several major speeches that I intend to make, what I have dealt with is the need of a National Development policy to keep our young men and women in Canada, to build for Canada a Parliament that will be effective, a human betterment policy that will assure opportunity.
The platform, as it is revealed, will show that the Policy of this Party is based on its abiding faith in freedom; in the maintenance of our institutions which are the buttress of that freedom; in the sovereign independence of Canada; Canadians; in our dedication that the State shall be the Servant and not the Master of the people; that Communism will be resisted from within and from without Canada by every means within our concepts of freedom of the individual.
I shall say nothing of that case that today is being discussed in all parts of our nation, excepting this. When you follow the calendar of confusion in connection with the answers given by the Secretary of State for External Affairs and other Ministers of the Crown, you have further evidence of the fact that Parliament is treated with disdain and cavalier disregard to the necessity of giving to Parliament full, frank and truthful answers.
[Illegible] My friends, this is a time for greatness in planning for Canada's future. Unity demands it; freedom requires it; vision will ensure it.
As far as the road on which the Liberal Party has travelled in recent years is concerned, if it is followed after the next election in the same direction, Canada would be led to the eventual extinction of its true Parliamentary system.
I believe that if this nation is to have a new birth of unity and freedom, we must go back to the vision and the idealism of Canada's first Nation Builder. He led the way - Macdonald did, to national tolerance, dignity and unity, as he joined with Cartier in brotherhood and in faith.
My pledge, on behalf of this Party, will be to do my part to achieve One Canada. I don't think the people are asking for political carpentry today for both purposes. They are asking for something of a vision of a new Canada, the Canada that appears to me at this time, with its opportunity for Canadians. They ask for a lift in heart. They have a desire to serve. My purpose and my aim with my colleagues on this platform will be to bring to Canada and to Canadians a faith in their fellow Canadians, faith in the future in the destiny of this country.
[Commonwealth] Internationally, we must retain a close relationship with the commonwealth. In the tradition of this Party, we did resent, and we do resent the British people being castigated and derisively condemned as those "supermen" whose days are about over.
We must retain our relationship with our neighbor, the United States. We must recognize that her devotion to freedom means survival to free men all over the world.
We must remain true to our international obligations in the United Nations and in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Above everything, we must return to the people of Canada their right to govern.
We must maintain the Federal system.
We must make articulate the yearnings and the aspirations of Canadians everywhere, even unto the humblest of our people.
If we are dedicated to this, - and to this we are, - you, my fellow Canadians, will require all the wisdom, all the power that comes from those spiritual springs that make freedom possible, - all the wisdom, all the faith and all the vision which the Conservative Party gave but yesterday under Macdonald, change to meet changing conditions, today having the responsibility of this party to lay the foundations of this nation for a great and glorious future.