June 7, 1904

?

John William Bell

Mr. BELL.

Mr. Wells in the ' Forum. '

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   EXPORTS, HOME PRODUCTS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

In what year was that ?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   EXPORTS, HOME PRODUCTS.
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John William Bell

Mr. BELL.

I think it was in 1894. It was at a time when my right hon. friend was not in power, at a time when the affairs of this country were administered by a Conservative administration. The right hon. gentleman received the country's affairs into his hands from that Conservative administration, stable and undisturbed, and running as smoothly as they are described in that extract.

When we come to deal with trade questions we are simply dealing with arithmetical questions. It is nonsense for any one to pretend that there is any mystical influence exerted by man or administration to account lor prosperity in the country. In addition to that reason of a supernatural sort for whose origin we look to the Almighty giver of all good there is a reason of a material kind for everything that happens, and you can generally reduce that reason to figures. You can satisfy yourself, if you are a business man, as to the reason and the extent of the good times, and not feel bound to attribute them to any mystical or mysterious agency. To a considerable extent there can be no doubt that the increase of the trade of this country has been due to the good prices of recent years. It is not entirely that we have been producing any more, that we have been so much more active, although we are active, or that we have been so much more industrious, although we are industrious. It is due to the fact that an extraordinary increase of prices has occurred at a time when we have had an unparalleled series of good harvests, when our country has been healthy, free from plague and misfortune of every character, when peace has prevailed in our land, when our industries have been uninterrupted. This is what accounts for that wonderful prosperity to which I feel that the right hon. leader of the government must owe a great deal of the satisfaction with which he has governed this country during his term of office. Our business in this country is very easily understood ; it is very simple. Great Britain has an enormous revenue apart from the revenue from her exports. For her foreign investments it is estimated she has a revenue of $450,000,000, and from her enormous shipping, which practically governs every sea and earns money in every port of tiie globe, it is estimated that she has a revenue of $450,-

000,000; $900,000,000 per annum is the extent to which Great Britain is the world's creditor ; and so long as her imports do not exceed her exports by that sum, she is paying her way, because she is only receiving in kind the debts owing to her from the outside world. But in Canada we have not much of these sources of revenue. The imports of this country, no matter how much they may be, are dependent almost entirely on the amount of our exports. They are paid by our exports, and are limited by our exports ; and there can be no question at all that one of the reasons which have operated to place my right hon. friend the Minister of Finance in the fortunate position of being able to repeat again the story of the continued expansion of the trade of this country have been the high prices for our products which have prevailed in the world's markets. These have not been peculiar to Canada. They have prevailed everywhere. One authority, Sauerbeck, puts the index number of the world's prices in 1896 at 61 ; in 1902 it stands at 69, a gain of 8 points. Bradstreet, another authority, points out that in 1896 it stood at 67.2, and in 1902 at 86'3, a gain of some 19 points. These figures show that the articles which we are in a position to supply to the outside world are being bought from us at high prices, and to a large extent account for our large exports, which in turn account for our large imports. I have prepared a table to show to what extent these advances in prices have affected our trade ; and it shows the following increases of prices from 1896 to 1903 : cheese, 2'4 cents per pound ; wheat, 16 cents per bushel ; bacon, 3-1 cents per pound ; boards, planks and scantling, $4:16 per thousand ; deals and ends. $7.28 per thousand ; and butter, 2-5 cents per pound. There have been declines in coal of 42 cents, in cattle over one year of $3.12, in flour of 20 cents, and in hay of $1.22. But in the great items of our exports-cheese, wheat, bacon, lumber-the prices have all advanced enormously. On a few of these items, from the increased prices alone, irrespective of quantities, we gained in 1903 over 1896 : in cheese 5'5 million dollars ; in wheat, 5-3 millions ; in bacon, 4:3 millions ; in boards and planks, 4'2 millions ; in deals, 2-6 millions ; and in butter, 1 million dollars.. Therefore it seems to me very much more reasonable and likely that wre owe the prosperity of this country at this time, which we all delight to see, not so much to the fact that our good friend the right hon. gentleman who presides over the present government is in power, as to the fact that we have had good crops, that there has been no interruption to our industry, that wars have not taken place within our borders but beyond our borders, that a great centre of industry has developed in the Yukon, that we have enjoyed high prices for our great products, and generally speaking that we have enjoyed good luck every year such as the

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right hon. gentleman never hoped to see when he came into power.

These are the things which have contributed to our prosperity and not any act of administration on the part of this government. But I suppose it is for want of any better reason that everywhere and at all times the argument you hear in favour of retaining this government in power is the old story of the full dinner pail. That I dare say is a good enough thing for its own place and occasion, for the stomach, but to hear this argument advanced in this House, to hear the Finance Minister year after year repeat to his listening followers the figures of this prosperity and to hear them cheer over these figures which indicate nothing at all as to the merits or conduct of the government, provokes one to go through what might be a meaningless and senseless task and to point out the fact that if the good times in this country are owing to the administration, then the influence of the government extends to every country in the world, for every country has participated in the good times that have come to Canada owing to the administration of this government. I have collected the figures for seventeen countries. Argentina, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain, and the United States, and I find that all these have shared in the prosperity. The aggregate trade of all these countries in 1902 was $17,417,456,485, and in 1896, the year in which this government came into power, the aggregate trade of these seventeen countries was only $13,834.198,136. They have increased their trade in these years by $3,583,257,849, an increase of 26 per cent, so that it is quite clear that if we are to attribute the welfare and prosperity of this country to the administration that we have had, that administration is apparently so effective and so powerful in the direction of inducing and sustaining prosperity that its influence has extended until it might properly be called world wide. Canada is a country that should make enormous gains, a country that is rapidly deriving wealth from outside countries. A large population is flowing from other countries into Canada bringing means of subsistence, entering into active operations, adding to the wealth of this country and developing its trade. We are not limited to the growth of our own population ; we are receiving population from abroad. The countries which I have cited, include the oldest countries in the world, those that may be thought to have reached their full development. Only one in the list, Argentina, is in circumstances something like our own. The others are all old countries. The fact to ibe learned from these figures is that at the present time we are living in a period of inflation, that the country is wealthy because the world is prosperous, the world is

wealthy. It would not be well to leave the consideration of a budget speech without to a certain extent calling the attention of the country to the manner in which the government is administering the affairs of the country, and considering whether it is utilizing its position for the advantage and relief of the people, or for the convenience, advantage and relief of the government, and its supporters, those who have the strongest claims upon it. Has this government administered the affairs of the country in such a way as to lighten the burdens of the people or in such a way as to increase their own glory, to advance their own welfare, to comfort and to make everything pleasant for those who. are nearest the administration ? Is this a government which properly fulfils the ideal of Liberal administration, knowing no favourites, recognizing no class distinctions, administrating the affairs of the country with a single eye to the welfare of the citizens, even the humblest of them ? It is impossible to review the history of this administration and come to the conclusion that they have governed Canada in that way. The members of this government while in opposition placed themselves on record as opposed to everything that led to increased debt, to increased expenditure and to increased taxation. What is their record now that they are in power V They have lived up to the policy and followed the course which they condemned as an improper one for their Conservative opponents to follow when the Conservatives were in power. The trade of this country has in-ceased ; its prosperity has been great. The outlay of the government has increased in every direction ; the increase is enormous. The revenue has increased and that portion of the revenue which the hon. gentleman and his colleagues condemned the late administration for increasing, the taxation of the people, has increased enormously. In this present session this administration has passed through this parliament a measure which if it be carried out will add to the debt of this country, a debt which is fixed at $257,000,000, an increase of something like $170,000,000. Not only has the trade increased, but everything else has. Revenue and taxation have increased ; and if my hon. friend's views are given effect to, in a very short time the debt will ibe increased to an enormous extent. My hon. friend the, Finance Minister points to a reduction of debt this year of about a million dollars, and the First Minister leads the way to an increase in our public debt of $170,000,000.

My hon. friend the Finance Minister has developed to-day another idea which must be exceedingly distasteful to the Minister of Trade and Commerce. In the course of the last number of years, he has taken great pleasure in telling us of the savings of the people and seems to think it an evidence of prosperity that the people should have increased their deposits in the savings Mr. BELL.

banks. That idea is a new one coming from that side. In the old days the Minister of Trade and Commerce used to scoff and sneer at this argument when advanced by the Finance Ministers of the Conservative party. He said that the deposits in the savings banks were evidences of debt and not of prosperity. He asked : ' Where is the money ? You have not got it. If a run were made on your bank to-day, you would have to go to England and borrow it. You owe it.' and then he used tne very significant phrase : ' It is interred

in the public works and railway subsidies to keep some one behind the minister in good humour.' I would like to know how far that utterance applies to the present condition of things. We voted railway subsidies with a very liberal hand last session and railway guarantees with equal prodigality. I wonder if these caustic remarks of the Minister of Trade and Commerce can apply as truthfully to the bank deposits of to-day as they did to the bank deposits in the days of the Conservative administrations. We used always to think that it was a good thing for the people to be careful and to go on swelling their bank deposits, but there was a higher wisdom than that which was revealed to the world by the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and that hon. gentleman must have been overcome by deep sadness when he heard his bosom friend and companion the Minister of Finance deliberately promulgate such a heresy as to ask the country to believe that there is any advantage or merit in the fact that the people are saving and depositing their savings in the banks. Bank deposits, he said, are evidences of debt and not of prosperity. You have not got the money. You know you have not got it. The money is spent. It seems to me it would be well if the Minister of Trade and Commerce would take his erring colleague aside and prevent his making such shocking breaks in public. My hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce ought to start a kindergarten, where he might educate his colleagues in private and not be put to the pain of teaching them in public of the falsity of the doctrines which they are giving to the people.

If the trade of this country is growing and its prosperity, its expenditure is not lagging behind. The Conservatives had the idea, when they were in power, that they ought to reduce the expenditure, and the average Conservative expenditure from 1892 to 1896 was $42,141,763, or nearly $400,000 per year less than it was from 1887 to 1891. Their total expenditure in 1896 was $41,702,353, deducting the Quebec subsidies $2,394,000, which the Minister of Finance very ingeniously added to the expenditure of the Conservative administration for that year, although that money was not spent in that year. It appeared in the public accounts as a sum on which interest was be-

<

mg paid to the province of Quebec since 1882, and it is still shown in the volume which the Finance Minister issues to the public as a sum of money on which the government is paying interest. It was not treated as a debt until he saw fit to do so. Therefore the correct figures for 1896 of the expenditure are $41,702,383. The Conservative administrations were economical. In the years 1892-1896, the Conservative government was a government of retrenchment. That government must have been listening attentively to the speeches ol' my right hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce and of my hon. friend the Minister of Customs and others, and was trying to live up to the idea of statesmanship held up to them by these gentlemen. But since 1896 there has been no retrenchment. The very gentlemen who preached so loudly in favour of that policy have shown no taste for it, and the total expenditure of the Grit government has exceeded the average total expenditure of the Conservatives in the period, 1892-1896, in every year, as follows :

In 1897 by $ 830,992

In 1898 by 3,192,518

In 1899 by 9,400,872

Now they were getting comfortably seated in the saddle and began to see what they could do. In 1900 they exceeded the expenditure of the Conservatives by. $10,575,703. They had by this got into their stride, and in 1901 they exceeded the expenditure of the Conservative government by $15,841,109. In 1902 they again eclipsed the record and exceeded the average Conservative expenditure by $21,829,036. But iu 1903, possibly owing to the fact that the session was considerably prolonged and they had no opportunity to spend the money voted for public works and possibly because there was a degree of uncertainty as to whether we would have elections or not, they seem to have practiced some measure of economy and reduced their expenditure sufficiently to make its excess over the Conservative record only $19,604,808.

Well, we all know that in 1893 the right hon. gentleman who now leads the government, repeatedly said that if we were entrusted with power he would reduce the total expenditure of this country by from $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 per annum. His colleagues went further. The Minister of Customs thought he could save $6,000,000 per annum. But from $2,000,000 to $6,000,000 per annum was the saving which these hon. gentlemen pledged themselves to make if they were ever put in office. They were satisfied it was the easiest thing in the world to do if they only got the opportunity. But what has happened since ? Since July. 1S96, the Prime Minister has been administering the affairs of Canada and not only

has he failed to reduce our total expenditure by $2,000,000 or $3,000,000, but he has largely increased it. In 1893 the Conservative expenditure was $40,853,727. In 1897 this government spent $42,972,756. or an increase of $2,119,028. Their record is as

follows :

Increase.

1897

42,972,755 2,119,0281898

45,334,281 4,480,5541899

51,542,635 10,688,9081900.. . .. 52,717,466 11,863,7391901

57,982,866 17,129,1391902

63,970,799 23,117,0721903

61,746,571 20,892,844

Thus the premier of Canada, after pledging himself to govern this country with $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 less than the Conservatives had spent, has led his party into an expenditure greater than that of 1893 by $23,117,072, In 1902, and greater by $20,892,844 in 1903. No words are needed to emphasize the Importance of this statement. He must stand condemned of having spent, without knowledge of the subject, having spent recklessly, or never having made the slightest attempt at economy, this enormous sum in excess of the Conservative administration. The Conservatives did not aim at rolling up enormous surpluses, they did not aim at a great revenue or at great taxation. The Conservative policy of finance was the same as that of Great Britain, the same as that of any civilized country in which the ideal is the greatest good to the greatest number. They adjusted their taxation to their expenditure, and when it was necessary to call upon the people for extraox-dinary contributions, they did so. When it was possible to l-elieve the people of a portion of their burden, they did so. The Conservatives, between 1891 and 1895, made great reductions in the tariff, and they were taunted with having no surpluses in those days. On the other hand this administration can point to surplus after surplus. The Conservatives, instead of having surpluses, left the money in the pockets of the people. Between 1891 and 1894 -they made reductions on sugar, molasses and glass, and in 1894 they made a general reduction affecting hundreds of items in the tariff. The Liberal speakers always contended that taxation in this country was too high. Sir, I do not know anything more graphic, more interesting than to read the eloquent and burning words that fell from the lips of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, of the late Hon. David Mills, and of my right hon. friend, and of an hon. gentleman who is now adorning a seat in another chamber, when they denounced the high taxation of this country. Now what is the record of this administration ? Why, this government, since it came, into powei-, has taken fi-oxn the people in taxation and received in revenue the following sums :

t

4399 COMMONS 4400

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   EXPORTS, HOME PRODUCTS.
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IN YEARS FROM 1897 TO 1903.


- V olume of Taxation. Revenue.[DOT] 1890.. . $ 31,587,071 $ 39,879,9251891 30,314,151 38,579,3101892 28,446,157 36,921,8711893 29,321,367 38,168,6081894 ' 27,579,203 36,374,6931895 25,446,198 33,978,1291896 27,759,285 36,618,5901897.. 28,648,626 37,829,7781898 29,576,455 40,555,2381899 34,958,069 46,741,2491900 38,242,222 51,029,9941901 38,743,550 52,514,70143,389,111 58,050,7901903 49,015,505 '66,037,068 The administration which, in 1896, took $27,000,000 from the people, were condemned by these hon. gentlemen who, in 1903, take $49,000,000 in taxes from the same people who they declared were oppressed by the. Conservative administration. Why, Sir, such a record has never been made by a party in any parliament in the world. No wonder the right hon. the Minister of Trade and Commerce laughs. He may well laugh. The idea that any man in Canada was such a fool as to believe one word that hon. gentleman uttered when he was denouncing this expenditure, when he was talking about the people being bled white, when he was describing the state of affairs of this country, the oppression, the depression, the gloom that existed, talking of it in such terms and such tones that he drove the people out of his own county, and out of the country generally, into the United States in order that they might escape from the intolerable burden of a taxation of $27,000,000, which he increased on coming into power by considerably more than 50 per cent. No wonder he laughs. It is the greatest joke that has ever been perpetrated, not only upon a country but upon a suffering people. And the people of this country listened to him, believing him, and he is now in office ; he is now taking $49,000,000 a year from those same people whom he pitied so much when the Conservatives were taking from them $27,000.000. No wonder the hon. gentleman laughs, no wonder he chuckles and keeps his seat, keeps his place in that fifth *wheel to the coach, the Department of Trade and Commerce, that asylum for incapables, as he described them. He keeps his emoluments and keeps his stnile ; he chuckles and grins, and well he may. But what will the people of Canada say about it ? It is not likely the laugh will be altogether on the same side of their faces. Now let us, look at the increased expenditure in this country. The best way to measure this is to show how it affects the indi-Mr. BELL. vidual. Bet me read this table showing the taxation and expenditure per head since 1895 : Year. Taxation Expenditure per head. per head. 8 cts. $ cts. 1892-95 8 41 1896 5 46 8 141897 5 57 8 281898 5 69 8 631899 6 65 9 721900 7 19 9 951901 7 19 10 761902 7 95 11 721903.. 8 87 11 17 This table shows that although the people were bled white seven years ago, under the then rate of taxation, they have recuperated with astonishing rapidity, because they are now able to pay $8.87 per head whereas seven years ago they were almost exhausted when they paid only $5.46 per head. The Minister of Trade and Commerce can well laugh and smile over the situation. Evidently the patient has improved under this system of blood letting, he thrives upon it. so long as it is the Minister of Trade and Commerce who performs the operation. Bet us now look at the expenditure under the Conservative regime : Total Expenditure. 1890 $41,770,333 1891 40,793,208 1892 42,272,136 1893 40,853,728 1894 43,008,234 1895 42,872,338 1896 44,096,384 Total $295,666,361 Average $ 42,236,052 The Biberal administration, the careful administration, the economical administration, the administration who bled for the people's suffering and who are now bleeding the people, had an expenditure as follows : 1897 1898 1899 .. .. $42,972,756 .. .. 45,334,281 .. .. 54,542,6351900 1901 .. .. 57,982,8661902.. .. .. 63,970,8001903 Total Average .. ..$ 54,181,054Excess Conservatives- For seven years Average $83,601,016 . .. 11,943,002 Now, with such a record as that it is very natural that the people of the country should wonder how they manage to get clear of the money, but when we come to examine the figures in detail we find that there have been increases in every direction, as the following table will show :


INCREASE OF EXPENDITURE.


Administration of Justice Arts, Agriculture and Statistics.. A . .. Census, 1891 Civil Government Fisheries Immigration Quarantine ; Lights and Coast Surveys :. [DOT] . Miscellaneous Ocean and River Service Public Works * it Collected Revenue Railways and Canals Collected Revenue Through all of these departments there is an increase which averages just about as the census averaged ; that Is to say that a public work which is going to cost the people of Canada under Conservative administration SI is going to cost $2 under this administration. When our hon. friends opposite boast of their increased aggregates of their increased revenue and of their magnificent surpluses they might as well tell the whole story at once and say that they have made their expenditure and taxation fit in with each other. What is the justification of the whole thing ? The justification is the surplus. If you challenge any hon. gentleman opposite in this House or out of it as to the administration, he points to the fact of the enormous surplus. That is the one justification ; that is the one answer. You may take the government on any point you please, you may point to a record that ought to earn for it ihe condemnation of the people and the answer is ' good times and surpluses.' Conservatives do not aim at surpluses. Conservatives understand that the policy of the country ought to be that the revenue should not be in excess of the expenditure, that it is good financing to require that the taxation of the people should be reduced and the consequence was that during the period of good times which prevailed previous to 1896 the Conservative administration remitted taxation upon sugar and relieved the people to the following extent :


REMISSION OF TAXATION.


1891 *. * [DOT]$ 227,477 1892 5,200,000 1893 4,000,000 1894 4,821,000 5,603,521 Total $19,851,998 1896. 1903. [DOT] Increase. Per cent..[DOT] 9 758,270 $ 959,948 9 201,678 266210,878 436,402 225,524 107'549,992 1,149,879 599,587 109'1,396,628 1,554,792 158,164 11'427,251 527,829 100,578 235'120,199 642,914 522,715 435'95,247 263,331 168,084 177-466,058 964,144 498,086 107'172,363 528,231 355,868 207'181'452 417,137 235,685 130'1,299,769 4,065,553 2,765,184 213'159,460 562,404 402,944 253'3,826,226 7,221,705 3,395,479 91-8 Surpluses. Deficits. 1891 $ 155,977 1892 1,354,555 1893 $1,210,232 1894 4,153,875 1895 330,551 Net deficit $4,182,227 Total taxation remitted.. ..$15,669,771 Instead of hanging this up and piling up surpluses they left the money in the pockets of the people, a place where it will do far more good. After providing for the deficits which occurred at the close of that period there was an amount of money remitted to the people of this country of $15,669,771 under Conservative administration. Was it not better for the people that the Finance Minister of that day had not so much,pride in surpluses 1 Was it not a better governed country, a more happily governed country when the ambition of tbe Finance Minister of that day was to make his revenue and expenditure agree and not to have his revenue enormously in excess of his expenditure ? It was more scientific financing. It was better financing in the opinion of those hon. gentlemen who are now supporting my hon. friend the Minister of Finance in his course in gathering up-surpluses. I have been quoting considerably from my right hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce. I have no doubt that within his recollections he has treasured up some of his eloqueBt utterances on the subject of surpluses. I would be very glad to call to his attention and to the attention of the administration as well some of the opinions that were held and proclaimed by him in the past in reference to surpluses. In 1882. for instance, Mr. Tilley had a snr-



plus and the hon. gentleman representing Oxford was indignant about it. He was amazed that Mr. Tilley should boast of such a thing. He evidently knew that Mr. Tilley did not understand what an improper thing a surplus was. So, he addressed him in these words. The right hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce who speaks as being decidedly in favour of a surplus at the present day talked in this fashion of our benighted friend, Mr. Tilley, when he had a surplus : I ask how it was got. $1,100,000 we derived from two of the most odious and oppressive taxes which were ever imposed in a civilized country before under similar circumstances at least. The taxes on breadstuffs and fuel. If he really wants to relieve the people, let him remove the taxes on breadstuffs and fuel. The right hon. gentleman has been in power seven or eight years and he has not removed the taxes from breadstuff's and fuel. He was very much persuaded of their iniquity in 1882. Is it that the right hon. gentleman has seen the light since that time ? Is it possible that he can sit contentedly and quietly in the government and cheer the surpluses that are made up to a large extent from the duties on breadstuffs and fuel, from these two odious and obnoxious taxes whose imposition, was a disgrace to the former administration ? Yet, the right hon. gentleman sits there contentedly and quietly and smilingly assists in taking from the people of Canada and putting into surpluses, in the year of grace 1903. $226,524 on breadstuffs, and $1,914,330 on fuel. Then, there was another wise gentleman who knew of the iniquity of surpluses, a gentleman who has since passed to his rest, but who was a very prominent man in this House, the late Mr. Justice Mills, and he spoke in the same strain. Mr. Mills said : He boasts of a surplus. I say that a government is not entitled to have a surplus. There is no stimulus to economy when a large surplus remains in the hands of a government. A large surplus invites to extravagance and has invited to extravagance in this country. I wonder if it has recently invited extravagance. In the hands of this present government no doubt it no longer invites extravagance. The taxation and expenditure of this country have almost doubled in the hands of these hon. gentlemen who boast of the fact of having a surplus every year. Evidently in their hands a large surplus invites to extravagance and has invited to extravagance. But,[DOT]there is a good reason for the right hon. Minister of Trade -and Commerce, the hon. Minister of Finance and others, Why it was unquestionably advisable that they should not have surpluses. A large surplus unduly burdens the people. The $16,500,000 which the Minister of Mr. BELL. Finance boasts of this year amounts to almost $3 per head of the population of Canada. The average family of six contributes $18 per year to swell the glory and the shoutings about surpluses of the Liberal party in this House to-day. From the poorest family in Canada $18 is exacted, which could be remitted to them, because there is no reason why the government should have that surplus, if it did not choose to have it. The government of Canada has taken out of the pockets of every family of this country the sum of $18 in order that they and their followers may swagger about this country, and boast that they have the greatest surplus that has been.


LIB

Mahlon K. Cowan

Liberal

Mr. COWAN.

And you would propose to increase the tariff so as to increase the surplus.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   REMISSION OF TAXATION.
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John William Bell

Mr. BELL.

My hon. friend (Mr. Cowan) is not so green- that he does not know that you can increase a tariff without increasing the revenue. If he does not know it, then I would ask the Minister of Trade and Commerce when he speaks to enlighten the hon. gentleman on that point. A surplus takes money out of the possession of the people to whom money is worth six percent, or seven per cent, or eight per cent, or nine per cent, or ten per cent per annum, and it puts it in the hands of the-government whose money is only worth three per cent. A surplus diverts money from a position in which it could earn an average of seven per cent, to a position in which it can only earn three per cent), It is a diversion of a portion of the national wealth from a more productive to a less productive application. It is therefore mis-chevious. It causes great demands on the treasury ; it emboldens every man who wants to come to the administration with a scheme. Every land-grabber, every corporation broker, every one who is in a posi-[ tion to pull the wires here is emboldened, to do so, because he knows that in the hands of this administration there is a surplus this year1 of sixteen anil a half millions of dollars.

Hon. gentlemen opposite have been boasting a great deal of the debt of this country. Probably nothing could be more unfair or more absurd, than the manner in which the Finance Minister of this government contrasts the record of this administration during the past six years of abounding and overflowing prosperity with the condition of Canada during the eighteen years of Conservative rule. During this period of abounding prosperity this government have managed to reduce the debt of Canada by $l,e00,000, whereas the Conservative administration which made Canada, took it in the rough, built it up, furnished it, gave it a home, gave it all these things which are necessary to a civilized people, had to take some $6,500,000 a year

to add it to the debt of this country. What has this government done with the $58.000,000 of surplus ? What has it done in the way of the construction of great public; works ? Where are the great canal systems, or the great railway systems they have built ? Sir, the Conservative government which came into power in 1878 and remained in power until 1S96, gave Canada the Intercolonial Railway at a cost of $65,000,000 ; gave Canada her canal system at a cost of $36,000,000 ; assumed provincial debts to the amount of $10,400,000 ; built branches of the Intercolonial Railway at a cost of $20,500,000 ; assumed the cost of the deepening of the St. Lawrence, $2,500,000 ; paid for the Quebec and North Shore road, $2,250,000 ; paid for the cost of the Northwest rebellion, nearly $5,000.000 ; they paid all these sums amounting to $142,500,000 out of revenue, and they added to the debt of the country $118,000.-

000. And in face of this, all that the Minister of Finance can boast of to-night is that during these years of marvellous prosperity, the Liberal government have reduced the debt of Canada by one million dollars. The Minister of Finance must have very little respect for the great men of the past who represented the Liberal party in this country. These gentlemen opposite cannot have forgotten the Mackenzie regime. That government built no great public works in Canada. Surely the late Alexander Mackenzie was a good man, and a capable man, and his associates were very good men; but what was their record as to the public debt ? Mr. Mackenzie did not live in a period when the tide of prosperity was flowing abundantly. In 1874, when he came to power the national debt was $108,000.000 ; in 1875 it was $116,000,000 ; in 1876 it was $124,000,000 : in 1S77 it was $133,-

000.000 : and in 1878, when the Mackenzie government left power, the national debt was $140,000,000, an increase of $32,000,000 during the Mackenzie regime, when some of the gentlemen who are now ministers of the Crown were at that time also administering the affairs of Canada. In so far as the Liberal record in connection with our debt is concerned, this government seems to owe a very great deal more to the good fortune which has put them in power during a period of world-wide prosperity, than to any special wisdom with which they have conducted national affairs.

I think, Mr. Speaker, I have fairly enough reviewed all the points raised by the Finance Minister. I have dealt with his surpluses, with his taxation, with his trade proposals, with his tariff reform. While I congratulate the government on showing some disposition even in a very faint-hearted fashion to grapple with the trade question of this country, I am perplexed to know why it is that they should resort to the old expedient of delegating their powers of

government to a commission. Whatever else this government .may be known as in history, it will certainly be known as a government which eclipsed all others in the employment of commissions. No matter what the inquiry to be made, or the work to be done, a commission is employed by them, and even when it has to make up its mind as to policy it resorts to a commission to suggest that policy. Well, judging by something that has occurred recently perhaps it is as well that the government should not trust to itself, but that it should call in some of its wise men to do its thinking for it. Last session the government promised a commission to inquire into transportation, and as to the best and most economical means of carrying Canadian products through Canadian ports. Rut the government would not wait for that commission ; nothing could wait ; time could not wait, and so they went on to decide on a railway policy without the assistance of that commission. And. Sir, judging of what we have learned of that railway policy in the course of two sessions of parliament, of its1 innumerable and fatal defects ; we cannot help regretting that the government did not adhere to its first determination, and let this commission decide on its railway policy. Perhaps it would be well for us at this time to conclude, that it may be in the highest interests of Canada that this government should not allow itself to make up its mind on the subject of its tariff policy, but should delegate that duty to a commission. If that commission be well chosen, it may be that it will be better for us that the government should avail of such an opportunity of letting itself down from that position of uncertainty and hesitancy which it has occupied for the past eight years, under cover of the findings of a commission. There is no doubt that the government to-day recognize the fact that protection is and is to be the policy of this country. They recognize the fact that all the progressive nations of the world are making headway under that jjolicy. They must know and recognize the fact that for Canada to go on and fulfil her destiny, she must not abandon her industrial development, but must increase it, and thus hasten the day when the country will pass out of a position of hesitancy and doubt into a position where the government will have a clear and well-defined policy, and will follow it to the end. For this reason, although it is an undignified and unsatisfactory method, we shall welcome the opportunity which the appointment of a commission will afford to assist the government in deciding upon the step upon which it has probably already in its own mind decided.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   REMISSION OF TAXATION.
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LIB

Richard John Cartwright (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the House was occupied to a rather late hour last night, and after listening to two such speeches as we have had to-day, they will be disposed to thank

me for moving the adjournment of the debate. I therefore move that the debate be novr adjourned.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   REMISSION OF TAXATION.
Permalink

Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned. On motion of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.



Wednesday, June 8, ly()4.


June 7, 1904