Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):
In rising to address the House in this debate, there are one or two matters to which I wish in the first place to refer very briefly. The announcement in the Speech from the Throne that the estimates for the next fiscal year will be submitted ;o Parliament at a very early date is gratifying, not only to Parliament, but also to the country. Last year we voted approximately $200,000,000, which included some very large appropriations, and these being submitted to us during the last days of the session they did not receive from this House the consideration which their importance deserved. I do not approach this matter in a censorious or partisan spirit, and indeed I think it might be said that the system I am now disapproving of has been followed by all governments in Canada. It may be fairly saiu that many millions of dollars of the estimates we voted last year were unproductive expenditure, and represented an absolute waste of public money. Many of these expenditures were proposed, not for the welfare of Canada, but rather to meet parochial and partisan demands throughout the country. It is very obvious indeed that expenditures of this character must have a tremendously evil effect upon the political morality of the people, and make for waste, inefficiency, and corruption in the various public services. I am glad, therefore, to learn that these estimates will he submitted to Parliament at a very early date, and I trust that the Government will not expect the House to vote them without ample time being given for their proper consideration. Might I express the further hope that in the consideration of the estimates the Government will see that from time to time during each week of the session we shall have an opportunity of dealing with the estimates, and that Parliament shall not be asked to approve of them en bloc in the dying hours of the session.
Just a word as to the promised redistribution legislation, made necessary after the last decennial census, under the provisions of the British North America Act. I trust that when, that measure is presented to Parliament, it will bear evidence of a desire on the part of the Government to make a fair redistribution of the constituencies, and that a spirit of fair play will be exhibited in the measure. If the Government should make their proposal in that spirit
they will have for it, I am sure, the cordial support of hon. gentlemen on this side of the House.
There is not a great deal in the Speech from the Throne which should occasion very much discussion. The hon. gentleman from York, N.B. (Mr. McLeod), who spoke yesterday, readily saw that the Speech was more remarkable for what it did not contain than for what it contained, and so he dealt with matters which were not included in the Speech. It is very evident from the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday, that it is the intention of the Government to abandon all their pre-election promises and programmes and to engage in a campaign against the Senate. If an attack on the Senate is to be the political programme of the Government for the future, then I would suggest that the gauntlet should be thrown down at once, and that the conflict alleged to exist between the Government and the Senate should be submitted to the people and settled by them at the very earliest date possible.
The omission of any reference in the Speech from the Throne to the so-called naval issue, cannot but occasion astonishment throughout Canada and the Empire. At the last session it precipitated the greatest parliamentary contest known to the political history of Canada. It was naturally expected that that issue in some form or other would be again before us this session, and surely it is indicative of cowardice or incapacity or both on the part of the Government that it has not again in some form brought this issue forward. It is hard for one to believe that the Government or the advisers of the Crown are so indifferent to their obligations and to their mighty professions as to treat this very important issue with silent contempt, as they evidently propose doing. It was only four years ago that Parliament, after calm deliberation, unanimously concluded to embark upon a naval policy in the direction of the construction of a Canadian navy, whieh it was believed would be a proper discharge of our duty in the burden of the defence of the empire. For purposes which were purely political and in order to obtain the good offices of a political party in the province of Quebec, the present Government abandoned that policy, and they have never yet been bold enough to return to it. After a year or more of sleep upon this policy, doubtlessly disturbed by many nightmares, there was presented to Parliament last session a measure providing for the expenditure of $35,000,000 for the construction of three battleships and
the presentation of the same to the British Admiralty. This policy was urged upon the ground that Britain's supremacy was imperilled and that a great conflict was imminent between two great European powers. Tokens and signs, we were told, were not wanting; there were pealings of thunder and flashes of lightning, premonitions of this terrible naval conflict between two great naval powers. And upon this ground we were urged, cajoled and threatened to support this measure of the Government. We were told it was purely an emergency policy; that the Government had in mind the adoption of a permanent policy which they would shortly present to Parliament. Several months at least have passed since then. The evidence of the emergency conditions and of the European Armageddon has vanished. Time has vindicated the position which hon. gentlemen on this side of the House took upon that occasion. The relations between Great Britain and Germany have improved immensely since then; better still, there is not wanting very impressive evidence that among the peoples of these two great countries there is rising a storm against the ever-increasing expenditures for naval purposes; and to-day in this country, in this House or out of it, is anybody to be found bold enough to say that emergency conditions now prevail? Therefore the reasons given by the Government last session for their naval policy being now non-existent, I ask what explanation can be given by the Administration for their silence upon this subject. Is the Postmaster General the impediment in the way of the adoption of a permanent naval policy? Is Mr. Henri Bourassa as powerful in the counsels of the Government to-day as he was in 1911 and 1912? Is Mr. Armand Lavergne [DOT]as powerful with the Ministry to-day as he was in 1911, wnen he selected the Quebec representation in the cabinet? Is any valid reason to come from the Government? Is any valid reason possible for their silence upon this occasion-a silence which we are told will prevail for a very considerable time. The Prime Minister told us yesterday that he was awaiting the political transformation of the Senate ere he re-introduced the legislation of last session. This is postponing our naval programme with a vengeance. It does violence also to intelligence, because it predicates .collusion between Providence and an organization of political opportunists upon this question. Again, it does honour to the Senate, to even the most vainglorious member of that body, that European hostilities can be convenient-4i
ly postponed so as to synchronize with the death of members of the Canadian Senate and the appointment of other Canadians to that House. If the European emergency condition is so accommodating as to be pleasing indeed, in all these circumstances, I say that the Government is in honour bound to declare its permanent policy upon the naval question. They have virtually repealed, without parliamentary authority, the Canadian Naval Service Act; they have by their acts impliedly repealed it; and I say they are in honour bound to replace it by something else, or to put it again into operation. The country to-day expects a declaration of policy upon this issue from the Government; and, if they cannot ascertain their own views, if they are incapable of framing a policy as promised, then I submit it is their duty to appeal to the people, as indeed they have often threatened and promised to do if the legislation which they submitted to Parliament was not approved. It speaks ill for the political institutions of this country, or for the intelligence of the Canadian electorate, if, in all the circumstances, it is possible for a Government successfully to maintain a policy of silence upon this issue, and at the same time disregard their own professions and the natural inclinations of the Canadian people.
The hon. member for York (Mr. McLeod) yesterday said that this country was to be saved a further humiliation by the reintroduction of the naval policy of last year. It was quite evident to hon. gentlemen sitting upon this side of the House and observing the hon. member for York while making that statement, that he was speaking facetiously and not seriously. Canada has been humiliated in this respect by hon. gentlemen opposite. Canada was humiliated when, without cause, they abandoned the unanimous policy of Parliament declared in 1900 upon this issue. Canada was humiliated when, in the last session, they asked the approval of Parliament, on alleged grounds which were false, namely, the existence of an emergency, of their naval policy. We are to be further humiliated this session by a policy of cowardice and silence on the part of the Ministry, and if so I suppose this humiliation will continue until the Ministry itself has been extinguished, which, doubtless, will occur when first they appeal to the people of the country. I anticipate that we never shall again hear from hon. gentlemen opposite a word concerning an emergency naval policy. I do not believe it is their intention again
to return to that policy. From the statement made by the Eight Hon. Prime Minister last evening, one would gather that he is already preparing the ground upon which he may fall, and preparing the justifications which he may give to this country for not re-introducing the naval measure of last year. Speaking last evening, he said:
It has been avowed and declared by leaders of the Opposition and by their organs that the Bill if introduced again under present conditions would again be rejected in the Senate.
There is no authority whatever for this statement. The emergency not now prevailing, one would anticipate that if they introduced any measure at all it would have reference to a permanent naval policy, and I say that they would not be justified in anticipating the defeat of such a measure by the Senate. He proceeds:
We have no reason to doubt that such is the determination of the hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House. Under these circumstances-
The paragraph which I particularly wished to quote from was another and not that which I was reading. Let me read again. The Prime Minister said:
The Government are naturally mast desirous that the aid which we proposed last year, under conditions of urgency and need, and which we still propose to bring in the due course-[DOT]
Whether urgency now prevails and obtains or not
to the common defence of the empire should be so proffered or given as not to prejudice or retard any international agreement for the cessation of battleship construction. When we are in a position to press the Naval Aid Bill to a final and satisfactory conclusion in the Senate, it will be our duty to consult with the Imperial Government respecting these grave and important considerations. If it should then appear that, by any naval arrangement entered into or about to be entered into by the great powers a restriction or diminution of the present lamentable rivalry in armaments could be brought about, we should always be ready, until our ships have actually been begun, to review the situation so far as these proposals are concerned.
That, Mr. Speaker, I take as an express intimation to this country-at least we on this side of the House may be justified in accepting it as such-that never again will we hear of the naval aid measure of last year, and that the reason which the Government propose giving to the country for this will be that the emergency conditions have passed away, and that there is an expressed desire among the nations of the world to lessen the expenditures of public money for naval purposes. I think
that the threats made by the Prime Minister and hon. gentlemen opposite yesterday against the Senate are both puerile and absurd. It is simply an attempt to cover their own nakedness by the fig leaves of useless threats against one of the legislative bodies of this Parliament, and I believe that the people of this country will pay little heed to these threats.
There is another matter upon which the Government propose to conduct a policy of silence, or of awaiting a change in the political colouring of the Senate. I refer to the Highways Bill. Again the Government's views smack of absurdity when they prophesy as to the expectation of the life of fellow-legislators and their own tenure of office. Do they not know that they are already considered in Canada as a one-term government? Their own supporters so prophesy; it is predicted openly in the market-place even. Their own record of incapacity makes this almost an accepted fact even to their own supporters, and one may even postulate the fact that this Administration is a one-term Government. If they propose to distinguish themselves by placing upon the statute books any legislation respecting highways, this is their opportunity, for it will not likely come to them again. They say that the Senate has prevented the execution of their policy with respect to highways. I say, Mr. Speaker, that this is but a figment of political fancy or an innocent fabrication on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite. The Senate has never, as far as I can recollect, done anything to negative any principle involved in any government measure in the past, unless it be in connection with the naval measure of last session. We may expect to hear during this session, and during the remainder of this Parliament, as an excuse for the non-fulfilment and implementing of Government policies, that the Senate has prevented the same. That apparently will be the defence of the Administration from now until the time when they receive their deserved rebuke from the Canadian electorate at the next election.
It might be worth while to ascertain if the Senate has been an impediment in the way of the non-fulfilment of several matters of policy promised by this Government since their advent to power and prior to that time. It may be worth while to ascertain what these policies were, and to inquire if they have been delayed by the action of the Canadian Senate, and if so to what degree. I hold in my hand a
publication entitled the Liberal-Conservative Handbook of 1911, which sets forth a declaration of matters of policy of the Government party. I find there a declaration of the tariff policy of the Government, as follows:
A fiscal policy which will promote the production within Canada of all useful articles and commodities that can be advantageously produced or manufactured from or by means of her natural resources, having due regard to the interests of the consumer as well as to the just claims of our wage-earning population.
That was the promise of the Administration in the direction of the adoption of a new tariff policy. In 1911, they promised many of their supporters the adoption of some new tariff or fiscal policy. Many of their friends and supporters paid for the adoption of an amended fiscal policy. Has there been any effort on the part of the Administration to implement that policy ? Has the Senate of Canada in any respect interfered or been an impediment ?
For many years, we heard of the great necessity of adequate protection in this country. Why, Sir, since hon. gentlemen went upon the Treasury benches, we have never yet had even a definition of adequate protection, let alone any legislative effort to put it in concrete form. When did the Government endeavour to enact tariff legislation which was in the interest of the consumer ? When did the Senate interpose any obstacle ? I would say that this is the year; this is the session; this is the time and the place for hon. gentlemen opposite to give us some tariff legislation which is in the interest of the consumer.
They also promised us tariff legislation which would meet the best claims of our wage-earning population. This is the time and the opportunity to implement that particular promise.
We were also promised some preference in tariffs within the empire. Their policy in this respect was set forth in the publication from which I am reading. It is as follows:
The promotion by negotiation, legislation and constitutional means of a system of mutual preferential trade within the empire.
Has any effort ever been made by hon. gentlemen opposite to implement this promise to secure imperial preferential tariff relations between the various portions of the empire ? Has the Senate of Canada interposed any obstacles in this respect P
Again, we were promised the appointment of a tariff commission which would obviate many inconsistencies and difficulties in connection with tariff making and
tariff legislation in this country. Has the Government made any serious effort to fulfil that promise ? It is true that in the first session of this Parliament a Bill providing for the establishment of a tariff commission was introduced and passed through this House, but I say that it was defeated in principle by the Government itself and not by the Senate of Canada. If the Government were sincere with respect to this measure, they certainly would reintroduce that Bill in the following session. It is a well known fact that, although the Tariff Commission Bill received the assent of hon. gentlemen opposite, it did not meet with their personal favour, and that members of the Government were personally told by many hon. gentlemen opposite that it was not a wise measure, and that having once failed of approval in the Senate of Canada, it should not be reintroduced for our consideration. I believe that to be a fact, and still hon. gentlemen opposite will tell us that this part of the ministerial programme was frustrated by the Senate of Canada.
We were promised further by hon. gentlemen opposite a restoration to the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan of their natural resources. Did the Senate of Canada place any obstacle in the way of the fulfilment of this part of the Government programme, or did the Opposition come from friends of the ministry in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan? Will hon. gentlemen opposite tell us what recommendations were made to the Government a few days ago when they were visited by a delegation of friendly politicians from the province of Alberta? Will they tell us what policy was recommended to them to pursue by Mr. Micliener, I think, the leader of the Conservative party in the legislature of Alberta? Has the Senate of Canada prevented the fulfilment of this policy, or is the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers) responsible for this particular failure? Surely the Minister of Public Works, the especially assigned guardian of ministerial interests in the prairie provinces, could have secured such necessary legislation as would give to these provinces their natural resources, as was promised them by hon. gentlemen opposite before they came upon the treasury benches. Surely this was not a task too great for the Minister of Public Works. He is said to be very agile and adept in every respect, even afoot. I heard it said of him by a friend that he could walk on a row of eggs from the Red River to the Ottawa river without breaking a shell. If he could successfully perform a feat of that character, surely he was strong
subsidies. In essence, the Highways Bill was a measure to supplement limited provincial revenues in respect of a public service which under the Constitution comes absolutely within the jurisdiction and purview of the local legislatures. I say that the view that these supplementary revenues should be distributed according to population was absolutely sound; and I cannot but believe that hon. gentlemen opposite believe this, as do the people of this country generally. That being so, I say that the principle involved in the Senate amendment is one which was absolutely fair. Now, one should naturally ask himself, as I am sure the people of Canada do, whether the Government seriously endeavoured to carry out their Highways policy as announced to the public in 1911. I doubt it; I go further and deny it. I say there is absolutely no evidence of their sincerity in this respect. They have not spent a moment of time nor a dollar of money conferring with the provincial governments in respect to this proposed expenditure, nor in devising a policy upon which to spend the money should the Highways Bill become law. They have taken no preliminary steps whatever, prior to requesting Parliament to pass such legislation and to vote the money, to formulate a policy of expenditure or a policy of maintenance, which policy, after all, was of more importance than the policy of expenditure. If Parliament had voted last year the money for expenditure on our public highways which the Government asked, would a single dollar of it have been expended in 1913? I say it would have been utterly impossible to have expended one single dollar of it. If they had attempted any expenditure it could not have but resulted in a woeful waste of public money. I say this Government have failed, miserably failed, to carry out their policy with respect to highways. They themselves killed their highways measure, and they now seek to attach the blame to the Senate of Canada.
I believe that no fair-minded man in this country will concur in the view taken by the Government. They have exhibited no desire whatever to implement their promises respecting highways. The people of this country ar^fciot worrying with respect to the action of the Senate on this measure. Their interest rather is in the conduct, the cruel conduct, of the parents of the Highways Bill who purposely and deliberately destroyed it. I have had occasion, as, I suppose, have most hon. members of this House, to discuss with many persons the action of the Senate. I have yet to meet ,
a single political friend of hon. gentlemen opposite who,* having heard a fair, honest explanation of the facts and the effect of the Senate amendment, did not readily concede that that amendment was eminently fair and businesslike. Hon. gentlemen opposite cannot conceal or cover their duplicity and insincerity with respect to that highways legislation by making empty, and futile threats against the Senate.
Now, I desire to say a few words respecting one or two other features of the Address. The Address states that there has been and is a restriction of trade owing to financial stringency. But we are told that we are likely to readily recover from that condition, owing to the boundless resources of this country. We upon this side of the House hope that these conditions are not permanent. In common with hon. gentlemen opposite, we have faith in the future of this country. We have no desire to exaggerate the depressed trade and monetary conditions prevailing to-day, nor are we inclined to take a pessimistic view of the future. However, the conditions now prevailing are worthy of a moment's consideration. We find, in the first place, that to-day trade depression and financial stringency exist concurrently; but this is not always the case, for in the past it has happened that we have had a financial stringency with trade conditions normal, or perhaps better than normal. We find that imports and exports are gradually declining, and I imagine that this will be even more marked during 1914 than it was in 1913. We have a contraction, quite noticeable, in industrial operations, and generally there is a most pronounced contraction in Canadian productions of every kind. We have also a very large number of unemployed people in the country, which is very regrettable indeed. We have a diminution-I was going to say an almost absolute cessation-of borrowings of foreign capital. We have a falling revenue. I do not say that some of these conditions may not have a very corrective effect upon the country, and prove of great value. They will prevent, for a time at least, the rampant speculation which has prevailed in Canada for some years, and enforce a return to sound fundamental economic laws. These conditions had a depressing effect upon the Prime Minister himself, because he has ransacked the papers of Great Britain and the United States to show that the conditions in those countries are very much worse than they are in Canada. It is quite
obvious, of course, the trade depression being world-wide, that the number of the unemployed, for instance, should be greater in large and populous countries like the United States or Great Britain than in Canada. These being the conditions, what has the Government done to remedy them, or to minimize their disastrous effects? This, I think, is a fair inquiry; it was a fair assertion on the part of the leader of the Opposition that we should have heard from hon. gentlemen opposite in respect of this matter, but unfortunately they are still further pursuing their policy of silence.
We have not been promised any remission of taxation, which would be quite a natural and desirable thing at this stage of our financial and commercial history. The well-recognized high cost of the necessaries of life is a subject which compels and is compelling the attention of everybody in this country. It presses hard upon the wage-earner, and particularly hard upon those who at the present time are unable to obtain employment. It produces social unrest; it is the hardest test and the severest strain to which democracy can be put. Therefore it is quite natural that we on this side of the House should expect to hear from hon. gentlemen opposite in this matter. Then, as the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark) pointed out last night, might we not have expected to have from the Government notice of their intention to afford to Canadian wheat producers the benefit of the additional market for their products which is openly offered to them, and the securing of the benefits of which requires only the definite action of the Government of this country? What possible objection can be urged against giving to the Canadian wheat growers the market which is now offered to them? Surely we might have expected some intimation from the Government of their intention to do something, be it ever so little, towards relieving the effects of the depressed commercial conditions which now prevail in this country. We might have expected an announcement of the temporary remission of tariff duties upon foodstuffs and other articles of ordinary necessity. We have had during the days of the present ministry a temporary remission of duties upon cement and steel rails, and if the policy of remission of duties was justifiable in respect to these two particular articles, surely a remission, even though temporary, of the taxation upon many other articles of necessity, the prices of which are extremely high to-day, would be justifiable in the extreme.
Have hon. gentlemen opposite been recently devoting their efforts towards securing wider markets for the exports of this country, so that there may be no recession in the volume and value of our exports, which are so invaluable and so necessary in a new country-a country which is a great borrower of foreign money? In the campaign of 1911 the people were promised by hon. gentlemen opposite that, if they were placed upon the Treasury benches, they would receive for their products a market fully as good, if not better, than the markets we were to secure under reciprocity. The Minister of Trade and Commerce has returned from Australia without having made any trade arrangements with that country. En route he had a conference with the statesmen of the Celestial Empire and of Japan; and we were told by him that in these countries were to be found great markets for Canadian produce, but evidently nothing can be found in the commonwealth of Australia. We were told by the Minister of Trade and Commerce in Halifax in 1911 that there was a splendid market in South America for Canadian produce. I suppose that when the Minister of Trade and Commerce returns to Ottawa and is permitted to extend his New Year's greetings to his colleagues he will be bidden to depart to South America. Apparently his colleagues have no desire for his company in Ottawa, during the session of Parliament at least, and possibly there might be opportunities in that great country, South America, for him to secure markets for the Canadian people.
We have a trade depression in Canada; our revenues are falling. Has the Minister of Finance appealed to the god of adequate protection for relief? Has he appealed to the idol of preferential tariffs? Where is the tariff commission that was to do so much for Canadian trade? What has become of the doctrine of protection, and its healing powers? We were told that in sunshine and in shower it would impartially bestow its blessings upon the capitalist and the wage-earner, upon the consumer and the producer at the same time. Where has the god of protection of hon. gentlemen opposite gone? Has he gone on a long journey? Is he not accessible? We were told that a high tariff was a good thing for this country, and we assume that a higher tariff would be better still. Well, then, in the present circumstances, would it not be well for hon. gentlemen to give to this country the benefit of an experiment in higher tariffs, and let us see whether the people
will accept it? If hon. gentlemen opposite did this, they would only be fulfilling a promise which they have often made to the country, and which they made to many friends at the last election.
Hon. gentlemen opposite will say that in the appointment of a commission to inquire into the high cost of living in this country they have done something to minimize the seriousness of the conditions now prevailing in Canada. But I doubt whether hon. gentlemen really have any belief in the efficiency of the work which may be done by this commission. I assert, Mr. Speaker, that no good purpose whatever will be served by the appointment of that commission. In the first place, respecting the personnel of it, the gentlemen composing it will not have the opportunity of engaging in such a thorough investigation as will be of any benefit to the country. They are men who are already engaged in the public service and naturally they must devotq some of their time to the discharge of such duties. Further, when that commission was' appointed we were told by the press that they were to be under the direction and control of three ministers, which would seem to indicate that the members of the commission were. never intended to be endowed with the scope of investigation and report, which they should have if their work was to be of any value whatever. I further say that it is not possible for this commission to report any additional reasons for the prevailing high cost of living than have already been furnished to the world by commissions appointed in other countries. There is not a condition stated in the text book of Professor Skelton, as quoted from by the Prime Minister yesterday, that was not known to students of the problems years and years ago, and you can find the same enumeration of the causes in a host of publications dealing with the subject. Of course, the enumeration of the causes will afford no remedy whatever, and what the people want is a remedy, and what they expected to be announced in the Speech from the Throne was that some remedy would be provided. The Minister of Labour himself can have very little faith in this commission. He visited my province last autumn, and he told the people that he desired his department to be known as the Department of Play and he himself as the Minister of Play rather than as the Minister of Labour. There are of course many reasons
why that department might be called a Department of Play and the Minister a Minister of Play. The Minister of Labour announced in Halifax that the reason for the prevailing high cost of living in this country was, that while we had prosperous times prices were bound to be high. But at the present moment we have not prosperous times as hon. gentlemen opposite admit. Therefore, we find ourselves confronted by the situation that we have times that are not prosperous while at the same time we have high prices prevailing. Therefore, conditions are doubly bad at present. But, if in order to secure a reduction in the high cost of living it is necessary to have even harder times than exist, then heaven help Canada and the Canadian people. We can hope for very little enlightenment or for anything of value from the inquiry proposed.
A word or two as to the effect of commercial conditions upon matters of government finance, and revenue. The conditions of trade have a very pronounced effect of course upon the revenues of the country. I find that for the nine months ending September 30 our revenues from Customs are nearly $3,000,000 less than for the corresponding nine months of the previous year, and strange to say while there has been a reduction in our revenues there has been an increase in our expenditures, because during the first nine months of the present fiscal year consolidated fund expenditure, over the corresponding nine months of the previous year, amounts to nearly $9,000,000. I find that our capital expenditure for the same period is greater by $18,000,000 and I find that the combined capital and Consolidated Fund expenditure for the first nine months of this fiscal year are greater than for the corresponding nine months of last year, by the very large sum of $27,000,000. I find further that the combined capital and consolidated expenditure for this nine months period is only less than our total revenue by $2,000,000. That is a condition of affairs which calls for comment and explanation on the part of the Minister of Finance. The Appropriation Act of last session authorized a huge expenditure, and when one considers the well known capacity of some of the colleagues of the Minister of Finance, to indulge in lavish extravagance, one cannot be surprised at the very great increase in our expenditures in this fiscal year as compared with the last fiscal year. It is not surprising to find that the expenditures have almost absorbed
our entire revenue and that the predictions of the Minister of Finance at the last session of Parliament are not likely to be fulfilled. Delivering his Budget Speech last year, the Minister of Finance in estimating the revenue and expenditure said:
Without attempting to forecast with any degree of accuracy, I feel confident that the revenues of the year will not only prove adequate to meet the current expenditure, hut to meet possibly the whole and certainly the greater portion of capital and special expenditure for the year.
This estimate of the Minister of Finance will hardly be fulfilled; every indication is that the revenues will not meet the expenditures as anticipated by him when he made his Budget Speech last session.
The amount which the Government has required to borrow this year has been a matter of great astonishment to the people of this country and to the money lenders of Great Britain who are asked to supply the same. Without pretending to be strictly accurate as to the amount of borrowings by the Government during the year, I believe that two permanent loans aggregating $35,000,000 in round figures have been made; two temporary loans aggregating $18,500,000 have also been made, making a total borrowing of about $53,000,000. It was but a few months ago that the Minister of Finance told us that he expected to meet all consolidated fund expenditures and all capital and special expenditures out of revenue. If his expectations had been fulfilled, or approximately so, surely it would not have been necessary to have borrowed to the extent of $53,000,000? It is only fair to say that there has been a refunding of debt amounting to nearly $10,000,000. One cannot object to that. The only special expenditures that I know of that could possibly have been made during the year, or are likely to be made during the balance of the fiscal year, would be the purchase of the Grant Trunk implementing bonds, which would amount to $1,000,000 a month since the 1st of April, and the payment of special railway subsidies to the Canadian Northern Railway. But, taking into consideration these special expenditures, and the refunding of loans which matured during the year, I think some explanation is due Parliament and the country as to the necessity for these very extensive borrowings. It was unfortunate, indeed, that Canada had, during the past calendar year, to engage in such borrowings. The
market was unfavourable during the whole year. The interest rate and other charges in connection with these loans were unusually heavy. These borrowings met
with a protest from the lending public in Great Britain. Further, they affected
adversely the borrowing powers of other interests all over the country, and it is almost as important to conserve the borrowing powers of individuals and corporations in this country, as it is those of the Government. These borrowings have more or less disastrously affected Canadian credit in the British money market.
Just a word or two in reference to the expenditures during the year, which were,
I assume, the cause and the necessity of a very considerable portion of the moneys borrowed during the year. As I said before, the Government asked authority at the last session of Parliament for the expenditure of an unusually large amount of money, aggregating nearly two hundred million dollars. Last year the signals of distress were out. The Minister of Finance himself intimated that he could hardly expect to see the revenues maintain their strength throughout the year. The expenditures authorized were in many respects absolutely unnecessary, particularly for this year, and could have been very well postponed until a more convenient period. The facts of hon. gentlemen opposite were very censorious against previous Administrations for their heavy expenditures during a year of falling revenue, and nobody was ever more censorious than the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Foster). Unfortunately I have never been able so far to have the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce in Parliament when referring to such matters. I think it would be very pleasing and instructive to the House to have (the statements of the Minister of Trade and Commerce harmonized with or distinguished from the practices of the present Minister of Finance. Similar conditions respecting revenue prevailed in this, country in 1909. I want to read for the edification and instruction of the Minister of Finance the statements made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce in the year 1909, and I trust they will give him at least a very correct idea of what his colleague the Minister of Trade and Commerce thinks of his administration of finance during the past few months. The Minister of Trade and Commerce, on April 20, 1909, was
criticising the expenditure of the then Minister of Finance for the preceding year, and he spoke as follows:
But I, and I think others on either side of the House, could not fail to ask ourselves why he as Finance Minister, in 1907, when every third-rate man in a bank, not to speak of the managers and directors of banks, knew that the stress of weather was coming on, felt the forebodings and set themselves by every possible means to strengthen themselves financially for the blast, took no precaution at all. He crowded on all sail, and in that, the worst year in our experience for fifteen years, authorized and carried out his largest, most lavish and most wasteful expenditures.
How applicable that is to the past few months of the present fiscal year respecting financial affairs?
It would have seemed befitting in a Finance Minister who was careful and prudent to have made his provision when the danger was-coming, to have drawn in his sail when the storm was about to burst. My hon. friend did not do that-why? Because sound principles of finance were against such a course? By no means. All sound principles of finance and every consideration of good business were in favour of that course.
I thought it might not he objected to by the House nor by my friend the Minister of Finance if I gave him what was the opinion of the Minister of Trade and Commerce in 1909, respecting conditions which then prevailed, and which in some respects are very similar to those prevailing this year, only perhaps conditions this year are far worse. And I do hope that if the Minister of Trade and Commerce is ever seen in Parliament again during the lifetime of the Government, my hon. friend the Minister of Finance will urge upon his esteemed colleague the necessity and propriety of telling us whether the opinions he entertained in years gone by respecting the administration of finance are or are not applicable * to present day affairs.
I have seen it stated in the press that the Government considered it was pursuing a wise financial policy in making extensive borrowings by reason of the depressed commercial conditions in this country; that is, they consider it sound finance to manufacture prosperity by increasing public expenses for the balance of the fiscal year and for the next fiscal year. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the intention of the Government. I am told that the late Minister of Public Works, the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk), in a letter which appeared in some newspapers in the pro-,
vince of Quebec, recommended increasing the public expenses from a quarter of a billion dollars to half a billion dollars and more for the next fiscal year. If that is true, it is a good thing for Canada that that hon. gentleman left the Government. It is bad enough to make such a wicked suggestion made to the present Minister of Public Works, but it would have been far worse to have a minister presiding over that department who believed it sound policy to endeavour to manufacture prosperity by increasing public expenditure without regard to whether those expenditures were productive or not. There can he no distinction between public and private expenditure. You can attach no more special significance to national expenditure than you can to what is termed international trade. There is really no such thing as international trade because that which we call international trade is after all but the trade of individuals within the nation and there is no distinction between borrowing money for the construction of a railway by a Canadian railway corporation and borrowing money for the construction of a railway by the Government. The wisdom of borrowing money and the expenditure of the same for public purposes are altogether dependable upon whether such expenditures are necessary and whether they will be productive and in the interests of the country.
I have seen it frequently stated in newspapers friendly to the Administration that it was a wise and sound economic policy to borrow lavishly this year because business conditions were not in as prosperous a state as we would wish them to be. I can hardly believe that this country will regard that as sound finance and sound policy. If great national public undertakings were desirable and necessary, and, if we were compelled in any event at some time to borrow for the same, and if these moneys could in the present year have been borrowed at favourable rates, then possibly it would have been sound business for the Government to engage in such borrowings, but such a condition respecting the borrowing of money did not prevail this year. Interest rates were high, money was dear and it would be only under the most favourable and pressing conditions that the Government would have been justified this year in borrowing money even for national undertakings, when money was not cheap but was very dear indeed.
On the whole, I think that hon. gentlemen in this House, on both sides of you, Sir,
and people outside in the country, will be disposed to think with us that the Speech from the Throne has been exceedingly disappointing in every respect. The deliberate abandonment of the Naval Aid Bill and the Highways Bill by the Government must astonish this country. Their declaration that they propose pursuing a policy of absolute silence respecting these two great public measures must be a matter of great astonishment to the entire country. It must be a matter of surprise and regret that we have had no promise of tariff reform or reduction of taxation,.no promise of the accomplishment of a preferential trade arrangement such as was promised, no promise of Civil Service reform, no promise of Senate reform, no promise of the fulfilment of the many promises of public policy which hon. gentlemen made frequently in this country, no promise of any action on their part to minimize if possible the effects of our trade depression, no promise of any substantial effort to meet the difficulties of the high cost of living, no promise on their part to give to the producers and exporters of wheat the additional market which they might have had, no promise of anything substantial or expected, but of empty and vain threats against the Senate of this country and their ghoulish suggestion that the implementing of their promises must be deferred until by death or Act of Parliament the personnel of one of the legislative bodies of this Parliament has been changed. Well might the hon. member for York, N.B. (Mr. McLeod) say yesterday that these conditions .are humiliating in this country. Humiliating indeed they are, I say, but the only ray of hope is that within the very near future, or at least within a limited time there will come to the country an opportunity to remove from the Treasury Benches a Government that has frequently proved its incapacity to administer public affairs.