Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
For my part I agree very largely in everything said by my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson). If we had a condition of things jvith which we could deal ourselves on the line he believes to be right and I believe to be right. I would agree at once to his suggestion : imt unfortunately we are confronted with the same difficulty as confronted the fathers of confederation in 1S67. The principle he has laid down that those who have the spending of the revenue should also have the responsibility of collecting it, is so obvious and true that it is a matter of surprise to those who look through the debates of 18(55 and the Act of confederation as it is. that the fathers of confederation should have consented to depart from a principle so true and obvious. Why then did they depart from it ? Simply because it would have been impossible to get any one of the provinces to enter confederation unless it was given a subsidy to meet its own expenses. The people of this country are afraid of taxation, and especially of direct taxation, and it was the spectre of direct taxation which forced those who were responsible for framing the Act of confederation to agree to the plan adopted. Some forty years have elapsed, and since then I do not think that the people of any of the provinces would be disposed to part from the principle there laid down, and agree to telease the federal treasury of the subsidy they receive every year. The conditions are exactly the same in the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatcnewan as they were in the older provinces. It is true that these new provinces have not to surrender their excise and customs to-day ; but if they were not in confederation, they would be free to collect their own excise and customs. Therefore when they came into confederation they surrendered, as did the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the right to deduct excise and customs duties,
and are consequently, for all practical purposes, in the same condition as were these In 1867. Whenever a province enters confederation, that very day it surrenders its right to collect excise and customs and places itself in the same condition as that in which were the older provinces. Suppose you were to say to-day to the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta : Will you agree to come into confederation without compensation or subsidy at all ? They would reply no. Of that there can be no doubt, and the gentlemen who represent these provinces to-day will agree in what I say. What is to be done under such circumstances ? We are not introducing a new principle but simply applying that which was accepted in 1867.