- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Apr 1948, p. 327-335
- Hill, C. Bruce Esquire, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The threat to the existence of Free Enterprise in the Dominion of Canada. Socialism as a threat to Canada, not only to the existence of Free Enterprise, but to the standard of living of every Canadian. A dismissal of Communism with a few words, so as not to confuse it with the issue at hand. The belief by The Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the exposure of Communism by education. Free Enterprise described. How Socialism is a threat to free enterprise. Opposition to Socialism and reasons for it. Benefits of Free Enterprise, with example. More and efficient production as the answer to the high standard of living in North America. A description of Socialism. Socialism as a shift in responsibility from the individual to the elected politician. The speaker's belief that Socialist theory offers no sound vision and is incapable of raising the standard of living of the Canadian people. The lack of understanding and appreciation by the Canadian people of what the Canadian system of free enterprise means to them. Failure of business, in some cases, to have due regard for the public welfare. Correcting the situation. Work by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Personal responsibility as the fundamental principle of free enterprise. Selling the people of Canada. Giving the people that work for us more information as to exactly what we mean to the Dominion of Canada.
- Date of Original
- 1 Apr 1948
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
AN ADDRESS BY C. BRUCE HILL, ESQUIRE, M.C. AND BAR.
Chairman: The President, Tracy E. Lloyd.
Thursday, April 1, 1948
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
The Empire Club of Canada welcomes as its Guest of Honour today the President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce-MR. C. B. HILL, M.C. AND BAR.
Our Guest was born in Ottawa and as President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, I will venture the opinion that he will be visiting his birthplace many times throughout this year. Representing as he does organized business, it is his responsibility to keep Ottawa informed of the economic policies formulated by boards of trade and chambers of commerce throughout Canada.
Our Guest, after receiving his early education in Ottawa, attended Trinity College School, Port Hope and then, for a short period, was with the Dominion Bank, leaving for World War I with the Canadian Field Artillery. While overseas, he attained the rank of Major and received the M.C. and Bar and was mentioned in despatches. With this artillery experience, it is quite fitting that this year he has turned his heavy guns on the opponents of our democratic way of life.
Returning from World War I our Guest became a successful farmer and then turned to industry and he has been President of the Engineering Tool & Forgings Limited, at St. Catharines for the last sixteen years. His business associations include a directorate of the National Trust Company, the Canadian National Exhibition and the Executive Council of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and also in community activities he has done his full share and is a Governor of St. Catharines General Hospital and was President of the Ontario Division of the Red Cross Society, making an inspection trip overseas for that worth while organization tour years ago.
As Past President of the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce and now President of the Chamber of Commerce for all Canada, we can readily realize how well equipped he is to address us today on the subject he has chosen:
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is certainly an honour to be asked to address The Empire Club of Canada here in Toronto.
Now, I talk to you today on the subject of Free Enterprise and Socialism, a threat to its existence, and I believe in the Dominion of Canada a real threat. I am not trying to sell Free Enterprise to this audience but rather to convince you that Socialism is a threat to this country, not only to the existence of Free Enterprise, but to the standard of living of every Canadian in the Dominion of Canada. I am not talking only of today or tomorrow, I am talking of the future.
Now, I felt today that Communism might confuse the issue which I discuss today. Therefore, on this particular occasion--I am not attempting to establish a precedent for any future action--I dismiss the subject with these brief, but I think adequate remarks. The legal suppression of any political party is contrary to our democratic way of life and in any case, I question its value. But that does not relieve our Government of taking every precaution to see that we are adequately protected against the possibility of Communism or the seizing of control by force of arms or otherwise, and of vigorously enforcing or amending the present laws to do so. Nor does it relieve the individual members of any organization from the responsibility of cleaning their own house.
I am not referring to and- particular group. There isn't an organization in the Dominion of Canada that shouldn't take some care at this time to see that their organization does not contain a Communist.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce believes in the exposure of Communism by education, and I can assure you, Gentlemen, that we intend to pursue that course just as vigorously in the future as we have in the past.
Now, Socialism is a threat to a free enterprise. Gentlemen, twenty-five percent of the people of the Dominion of Canada believe in Socialism. That is one person in every four. Therefore, it is a major issue. It is a threat to free enterprise. You cannot ignore it. If you put your head in the sand and forget it, I say, Gentlemen, that that part of your carcass that you leave out to do your thinking for you is going to have a very thin time.
Free Enterprise I describe as the capitalistic or profit and loss system operating with only those restrictions necessary to protect the public welfare.
Our detractors refer to it as the profit system, forgetting that there are also losses.
Webster describes Socialism as a theory, and mark you, a theory, that land, industry and goods produced should be owned, managed and distributed by a government representing the people.
Now, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has on more than one occasion recorded its unswerving support for free enterprise, because of its accomplishments. Gentlemen--that is why--because of what free enterprise has done for the North Amercian Continent.
We are equally vigorous in our opposition to Socialism because we see no indication that Socialism has in any part of the world provided its people with anything like the standard of living that you have on the North American Continent. For years the Government of the Dominion of Canada recognized the fact that in the interests of the Canadian people and of the country they should encourage, assist and indeed, promote private enterprise. You have thousands of miles of roads in the Dominion of Canada built by provincial governments, municipalities and the Dominion. What for? To carry the commerce of free enterprise.
You have millions of dollars invested in canals. Again, I say, to carry the commerce of free enterprise.
Free enterprise built a trans-continental railway in this country with three million people.
And when our American friends are inclined sometimes to do a little bit of bragging, which perhaps they have a right to do about their country, I like to point out to them that it took forty million people to build the first transcontinental railway across the United States.
We have agricultural experimental stations from one side of this country to the other, rendering a great service to the farmer, but they do not go out and buy and sell his goods or grow his crops.
We have Trade Commissioners in every corner of the world and you could not find a finer body of men. They do much for the industry of this country.
But through the whole picture, Gentlemen, what has been the background? These people are all there to aid and promote free enterprise, or they have been in the past. I regret to say that at the present time the tendency is a trifle different. There has been a departure, there has been a recognized departure.
There has been a place for Government, there has been a place for free enterprise. Our opponents, in spite of the accomplishments of this partnership, do not suggest that they move into business in a small way. They suggest that we throw the whole partnership out the window and start afresh. I could understand that, Gentlemen, if we were dealing with a system that had not been satisfactory as far as the people of this country are concerned.
Let us regard the effort, and if I talk of the North American Continent as an entity, I do so because the statistics are better and, by and large, our way of living is about the same. We have on the North American Continent, 7.5 per cent of the world's population, but we have 35 percent of the railways, we have got 46 per cent of all the telephone and telegraph wires in the world. We have over half of the electrical energy, and of the world's total production, with 7.5 million people, we have approximately 35 per cent.
And let me give you one more illuminating statement. Sixty years ago the production per head on the North American continent was $100.00. Now, it is $400.00.
And there is the answer to the high standard of living which we have on the North American Continent--the only real answer: Production, more and efficient Production. It has brought us the highest standard of living in the world. We haven't even got a close competitor.
Now, just think that over. Just tell me where we have even a close competitor anywhere in the world. This continent has only been in business for 200 years. We have started and passed some of the oldest civilizations in the world. And make no mistake, Gentlemen, the vital force behind this thing is a free enterprise, a free citizenship, free initiative, free to work and struggle and get places as it has been possible to do on the North American Continent.
I sometimes think, Gentlemen, there is a tendency on the part of Government and perhaps indeed on the part of business, to put altogether too much confidence in high thinking and overlook courage, initiative and ordinary ability-the ingredients that go to make a free enterprise.
Now, what do the Socialists offer to replace this system that has meant so much to the North American Continent? A theory that land, industry, and goods produced should be owned, managed and distributed by a government representing the people.
I say to the people of the Dominion of Canada, you look out your window and look at your factories and look at your garages and look to your distributing centers and look at your shops and say to yourselves, "Is this man that wants me to vote for him, is he more capable of managing my business that I am of managing it myself?" I say to the people of Canada, just ask yourselves that question. Can I shift my responsibility? I say you cannot. Every man has a responsibility for his own individual life and he cannot pass it over to the state.
There are too many, and there are probably some in this room, who give lip service to free enterprise and rush to Ottawa the next day and say, "Let us have a law." Gentlemen, you cannot ask the other man to be regulated for your benefit without expecting that he is going to ask also for a little regulation.
In spite of the efforts, does the Socialist suggest that we improve this system? Does he say, "Now this capitalistic system has done much for the North American Continent"? He says, "No, let us throw it out the window and start with something entirely new."
They talk of political freedom. I suggest to you, Gentlemen, if you give to the State the right to buy everything you make and the right to sell you everything you want, that you not only sacrifice your economic freedom, you also sacrifice your political freedom.
Just look around the world and see if I am not right. The Socialist cries "Monopoly". He says we have monopoly. Does he say they will do away with monopoly? No, he says we will set up the biggest and best monopoly the world has even seen. We will set up a Planning Commission. We will regulate everything.
The greatest fallacy of all time fallacies, which the Socialist places is equality rather than production as a means of raising the standard of living, that is the greatest fallacy of all time. Of all the fallacies that have been advocated by Socialism that is the outstanding one. If you took every income in the Dominion of Canada over $5,000 and distributed it, what would you have? Nothing. Yet sixty years ago we produced $100 per capita and you know what the standard of living was. Now, we produce $400. Gentlemen, there is the answer-Production.
I believe the Socialist theory to be unsound of vision and incapable of raising the standard of living of the Canadian people. But after all, you wouldn't expect me to say anything else. The disturbing fact is, Gentlemen, that 25 percent of the Canadian people do not agree with me, in spite of the evidence. I have travelled a lot in this country. People are disturbed. They are disturbed about war. They are disturbed about power. They are disturbed about economics and their minds still travel back to the '30s. The propaganda of the Socialist falls on very fertile ground. They are experts on a platform and who doesn't like a speech that promises pie in the sky?
Investigations bring to light the erroneous thinking of the Canadian people along economic lines. They believe that Executives receive as high as half the wage and salary dollar. The answer is 13 per cent. They think that profits are as high as 60 percent of the sales dollar. The answer is about 5 1/2, including plant replacement.
During an industrial survey in the United States, and I think this is also true of Canada, when the employees were asked if they thought their dollar would go farther under public ownership, 43 per cent said they thought it would go as far or farther. Many believe that the whole blame for the '30s belongs to business. Nothing could be more unreasonable. It would be just as sensible to blame the plight that Great Britain finds itself in today on the Socialist Government. You have to be honest.
What is the cause? Why do they, believe these things? Lack of understanding and appreciation by the Canadian people of what the Canadian system of free enterprise means to them. Failure of business, in some cases, to have due regard for the public welface, thus bringing disrepute on the whole system.
How can we correct this situation? First, and without any apology, I give you the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, an organization built up by Business to do pioneering in creating an informed public opinion, applying a practical remedy, as to the place that business occupies in the lives of the people and the economy of the country. We have 527 Chambers across Canada-cells, if you like, of free enterprise, 75 percent in the communities of less than 5,000 people. I have seen them in action in Moose Jaw, Regina, Vancouver, London, Montreal, St. Catharines, all doing a job for free enterprise. And I tell you definitely, Gentlemen, that the business man of Canada is becoming aroused. We are fighting back with information, factual, all over Canada. We have men working and distributing information. We use the press, the radio and the public platform. I think, Gentlemen, we are doing a good job. No organization, no matter how good, can relieve us of our personal responsibility. Everybody in this room and in this country must make a contribution.
The fundamental principle of free enterprise is personal responsibility. Most of you men are connected with business in some capacity. Many of you have some influence on the policies of business and it is absolutely essential that first and foremost we use our influence to see that business operates with due regard for the public welfare. And other course in this day and age, Gentlemen, is just plain suicide. Or, if I really want to insult those people who don't have due regard for the public welfare, I say it is just plain stupid.
Let us face the issue. Business in this country and in many countries operates to a great extent in an atmosphere indifferent to its aims and objects; in some cases, definitely hostile. Twenty-five per cent of the population believe that we are not fit to manage our own affairs. They think that they can do better. It is a serious situation when one of every four Canadians believes he can do a better job than we can with business.
We must sell the people of Canada. We spend millions to sell our product, nothing to sell ourselves, or practically nothing. It wasn't so important twenty-five years ago, but it is now. Why not start on our own employees? Tell your employees about your business and how it operates.
Gentlemen, it is no politics. Many a man says, "I don't like to approach my employees along those lines. This is political." Is it political to take your employees into your confidence and tell them exactly what your business means to them and the Dominion of Canada? I don't think so.
What about the public? What about the annual statements of practically every business in Canada, going to the people that make business go, going to our customers, not understood by the public, not always understood by the shareholders, and I suspect, Gentlemen, that sometimes even the Directors are a bit puzzled.
We have got to give the people that work for us more information as to exactly what we mean to the Dominion of Canada. You can make a great individual contribution by studying these subjects and putting yourself in a position to answer those people who are continually decrying and tearing down the free enterprise system in which you and I believe.
Now, Gentlemen, the public are going to call the tune. The indifferent people, the ones that don't really care are the ones that have to be sold, and we have to sell them and I will tell you, Gentlemen, that at the moment we are being sold the other way. The people of Canada are listening to the other side. They are not hearing enough from our side, and we have definitely got to get more vocal.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce does not intend to allow this issue to go by default. The extent to which you participate rests entirely with you, but let me remind you, your decision may affect your whole way of life and that of your children for many years to come. (Applause.)