Mr. R. J. BALL (South Grey):
Mr. Speaker, it is with some hesitancy that I rise to say a few words on the subject of the Budget, which has now been before us for some time, especially after it has been discussed by so many able speakers who have preceded me. Before proceeding to the Budget I might refer to a few remarks of the last speaker, the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Copp). That hon. gentleman and others have spoken of curtailing the expenditure of the Government for this year. I take it that in the Estimates the Government have curtailed as far as possible; but owing to the war, which, of course, was an unforeseen event, they had to make altogether unusual provisions for revenue. Then there were the ordinary liabilities and necessary expenditures of the Government, some of which were really incurred by the late Government; and contracts, for which annual provision must be made, could not possibly be eliminated or curtailed. It might not have been wise for the Government to curtail or abandon contracts which they had entered into for public buildings and other improvements throughout the country under present conditions. The Government have been urging the farmers, manufacturers and others to continue their operations so as to obviate
unemployment. It seems to me that the Government itself, being the largest employer in the Dominion of Canada, should set a good example; in fact, it controls more money and can more easily obtain money than private institutions. I think that, as far as possible, in order to alleviate distress and help on the work of the country, legitimate public works ought to be gone on with.
Reference was also made to the employment of foreigners in Westmorland while our own people were out of employment. I do not know what the circumstances of that particular case were, but I know that very often contractors and others are obliged to employ foreigners to do certain classes of work that our own people refuse to do. I sometimes wonder if our people are as diligent as they should be, and if they avail themselves of all their opportunities in connection with public works and similar undertakings.
Some reference was also made to the distribution of contracts for war materials. I have not looked very closely into this matter, but, from what I can gather, the contracts for war materials have been distributed over the country amongst the various firms who manufacture such materials without any discrimination. I think the Government, under the strain to which they were subjected and being under the necessity of providing many of these things in such a hurry, were obliged, even if they had not been so disposed, to give these contracts out almost indiscriminately. I think it was wise for them to do so, because, while manufacturers may be on one side of politics or the other, they employ men of all classes and all shades of politics.
I think from a business standpoint that it would be well not to discriminate, and I believe there has not been any discrimination.
_ Something has been said of public criticism. It is well for us, even as political parties in this House, to be careful of criticism that goes out before the public. It is sometimes very hurtful. We have now before a Committee of this House an investigation into the matter of boots supplied to the soldiers. I have no doubt that when the investigation has been completed there will be very little fault to be found; yet from an international standpoint, that investigation has been very hurtful, and I have no doubt that Canadian manufacturers have suffered in consequence. The Governments of France and Russia and perhaps other countries which might have made purchases in this country will refraia- from
doing so owing to the reputation that has been given to the Canadian boot. There are many matters such as this which are international in character, in handling which we ought to be very careful and discreet. Of course, the Opposition must investigate where there are real reasons for doing so, but to my mind there have never seemed to be much cause for this investigation.
The hon. gentleman referred to the tariff as it affects his locality, that is, the province of New Brunswick. This is one broad Dominion, and it seems to me very difficult to enact a general tariff that will not strike somebody unfairly. For instance, in Ontario, and I presume in western Quebec, we have to bring bituminous coal from the other side and have had to pay a duty on it of 53 cents per ton. In addition to that there will be the 7| per cent further duty as war tax. I presume this duty is imposed in order to protect the Nova Scotia coal mines. I have heard very little complaint of that. Canada being a broad Dominion, it is very difficult to legislate for particular localities.
Reference was also made to the supposed clashing of interests between farmers and manufacturers. I was very much pleased at the remarks of the hon. member for East Huron (Mr. Bowman) last night on this subject. I see no reason why there should be any conflict or rivalry between the farmers and the manufacturers of this country. They should co-operate. In fact, in Ontario there is very little of that feeling. I believe that the farmers appreciate the advantages which they derive from the presence of manufactories in their districts, and the manufacturers appreciate the presence of the farmer. A great deal has been said on this subject by western members who seem to have a feeling of antagonism towards the manufacturers of the East. The same spirit does not prevail in Ontario, as far as I have been able to learn; we are glad to know that the West is prospering and has good prospects, and we are sorry to find any depression there. There should be mutual good will over the whole Dominion in these matters; there is no reason why one section of the people should be stirred up in antagonism towards another section of the people. The proper way for this country to prosper is on the line of co-operation. I have no doubt that before many years there will be manufacturing industries in the West. Winnipeg to-day has a great many industries, and there are industries in many of the larger towns farther west. The farmers
of the West will find the towns thus developed of great help to them.
Something was said about people, through unemployment, being almost void of the necessaries of life. If that be the case, we cannot very consistently ask the Government to withhold contracts. It would seem to me to be a time when the Government ought to proceed with public works just for that reason, namely, to help to alleviate the problem of unemployment. In many cities, as in Toronto, and I have no doubt in Ottawa, men have been employed shovelling snow and doing other work which might have been dispensed with, simply that the unemployed might be furnished with a legitimate means of livelihood. For similar reasons I think the Government ought to proceed with public works. [DOT]
Reference was made to the new war stamp. It was suggested that instead of having a war stamp, the two-cent stamp should have been made a three-cent stamp, that is, that the old domestic postalrate should have been restored.
We are living under very special conditions at the present time. There is a great European war in progress. We hope that there will never be such a war again in our time or for generations to come. I have no doubt that one of the objects of the Government is to interest the Canadian people in this war and to impress its great significance especially upon the minds of the young. The imposition of special war stamp taxes will have a great effect upon the mind of the child going to school. It will imbue him with a love for his country, and emphasise the importance and significance of the period through which we are passing.
I must congratulate- my hon friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. White) on the able manner in which he has handled this Budget. I have heard no complaints from my riding nor from any other part of the country through which I have passed in regard to the proposals which he has laid before the House. The people know that there is a war on. They have encouraged the Government to send forward troops to assist Great Britain in the war. They have sent forward their sons and are willing to assist the Government in every way possible to carry on the war. They have been expecting taxation in some way or other. Taxation by way of customs duties seems to be the most reasonable way of collecting the money that is required for this purpose. We have in existence the ordinary customs tariff. Last August a special war rate was levied through the customs tariff, and now
we have another special war rate imposed. The last special war rate affected the people generally. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance has seen fit to tax those who are best able to pay. For instance, he taxes the banks, public institutions, loan companies, insurance companies, cable and telegraph companies, and business men, in the proportion to the business they do. This seems to me to be the best way in which the taxes could be levied. The tax touches us all pro rata as nearly as can be. The farmer does not expect to be exempt from this war tax. Why should he be? The farmer is just as much interested in this war as we are. The farmer s son, the boy whom he has raised, sent to school and fitted out for life, has now gone to the front; he wants that boy to be taken care of. The only way he can be taken care of is by the Government making provision in this way, and to do this we must provide the necessary money. The labouring map does not wish to be exempt. His son has also gone to the front, and he is just as much interested in seeing that his son is properly provided for as is any other member of the community. But he is not so heavily taxed as those who are better able to pay. The levying of taxes and the paying out of their money will have a good effect even upon cnildren.
We know the cause of this war: it has been caused by one man. We cannot but wonder at the power that one man can exert over a continent and over the world. The war was caused by the inordinate lust for power and territory of the German Kaiser. This war did not spring up in a day. We have a depression, but a depression has existed the world over for some time. Two or three years ago we had the Balkan war. Europe seemed to be convulsed; in fact, we did not know where the trouble was going to break out again, whether in Europe or Asia. Finally, a couple of years ago, it broke out in the Balkans, and then the nations began to retrench financially. It takes money to carry on war, and the nations began to bemore careful of their finances.
When the Balkan war was ended this present war began to loom up. A year ago nobody had any definite idea that we would now be in the midst of war. The clouds were hovering around, the nations felt that something was going to happen, and in order to provide for whatever might happen England, as well as our own Government, began to retrench. England began to draw in her sails in the matter of finance. Imme-
diately after the war broke out Canadian and other loans became more difficult to negotiate in Great Britain. Great Britain husbanded her finances in order that she might be able to take care of her national interests. We are pleased to know that she has also taken this colony of hers, Canada, under her wing, and has assisted her in the difficult task of financing. We are glad to know that we are able to finance under such favourable conditions. Most of the nations of Europe are involved in this war. We have Germany, Austria and Turkey on one side, and Great Britain, Russia, France, Belgium, Japan, and the British colonies on the other. This brings the matter home to us in a very decided way. Canada is inhabited by people of many nations. We have people of English, Irish, Scotch, German, French, Austrian and other nationalities. Perhaps we are too much given to sectionalism and to the perpetuation of national distinctions. I like the word "Canadian " better than any other, and I think that the sooner we realize that we are all Canadians the better it will be for this country of ours. In western Canada we have a great many German people. Many of these people are in my own riding. They find themselves in a very difficult position at the present time. Many of them have their brothers and friends fighting in the war against Britain. These people are endeavouring to be, and I believe are, loyal to the Crown under which they live. We can understand their difficulty. They are deserving of our sympathy, and we ought to be careful not to estrange such German citizens at this time. In my own riding they are an industrious, law-abiding, thrifty and loyal people. Many of them, no doubt, coming direct from the fatherland, have a love and affection for that land while loyal to the country they live in. In a generation or two this feeling will pass away, and we shall all become one people.
A year or two ago there was much talk of an emergency. There must have been an emergency at that time, as this war has broken out so suddenly. Germany had been preparing for the war. The Kaiser probably has been preparing for the last twenty-five years or more, and therefore it was up to the rest of the nations of Europe to see that they also were prepared. We had considerable discussion here about dreadnoughts and naval preparations for war a couple of years ago. I have no doubt that the British Government at that time realized the
danger, and it may be that some members of this Government had some hint as to the danger that was then in the air. It would have been very gratifying to us now if some of our dreadnoughts had been in the fighting line.
At the present time trade and financial depression extend throughout every country in the world, and it is for the Canadian Government to help business along and to carry out all the contracts which the country has entered into, so as to encourage the people and help them to struggle along until the hard times have passed. The industries which are turning out war materials do not perhaps feel the depression so keenly, but factories that are making what might be more or less called luxuries are undoubtedly adversely affected by the war. In my own town of Hanover we find that the war affects us greatly Our town was in good shape before this appalling war broke out, but since then business has become more or less stagnant, and the same remark would apply to Berlin, Stratford, and other towns in which the furniture industry is carried on. The Government has been very liberal with our banks, and I think that the banks in turn should assist business men who are legitimately entitled to advances, and in cases where the security is perfectly good. It seems to me that the banks could do a great deal in the way of helping business until the war is over and there is a recovery.
The farmeis of Canada are no doubt in a prosperous condition, and we are all glad to know it, because nobody envies the farmer all he can get out of his industry. Perhaps the best way to draw people to the land is to develop agricultural education, and the present Government has done a great deal in that direction. I believe also that the education in the public schools should be more directed along the lines of teaching agriculture, for it is a regrettable fact that up to the present our young people have been trained more for professions and other occupations which take them away from the land. The inauguration of rural mail delivery and the parcel post by the Government, as well as the establishment of rural telephones and the development of electricity during late years, all bring the comforts of urban life to the rural population and tend to induce people to cultivate the land and to stay on the farm.
We have had during late years a good deal of trouble over labour matters in this
as in other countries; but now that there is a wave ot industrial depression, conditions have become better in this respect.
It seems to me that we are inclined to legislate too much, in Canada as elsewhere, for the settlement of labour disputes. In my opinion the better way to settle such disputes is to let the individual employer and the individual workman negotiate between themselves. In my own town we have never had labour organizations, and we have never had strikes of any kind; our thrifty working-people for the most part own their own homes; and harmony prevails among all classes of the community. I have already spoken of the concord which should exist between the farmer and the manufacturer and other business men in the community.
The action taken by the Government to give seed grain to the farmers of the West has, I think, met with the approval of all classes. There have been 48,630 applications received for seed grain, which will supply 3,473,456 acres, requiring 6,000,000 bushels of wheat and oats. I believe that the Government Is treating the West very generously in this respect, and I am glad that the farmers of the West will be helped thereby. The Ontario Government is providing for its own people; Manitoba and the eastern, provinces are doing the same; but in the prairie provinces, Manitoba excepted, it is the Dominion Government which has taken action, and we trust it may be successful in relieving the situation there. I believe that this Government deserves a great deal of credit for the manner in which it has conducted the affairs of Canada since it came to office, and I congratulate the Minister of Finance upon his Budget, which I believe to be as fair and equitable as it possibly could be. I think it bears equitably on all, and I have no doubt that all the people of Canada are willing to contribute to the expenses of this war. I believe that the Budget has so arranged things that all
classes will contribute in proportion
' to their ability to pay, and thatthe policy of the Government in
this respect will be endorsed by the electorate. In my own riding, so far as I have been able to learn, the people are at one in endorsing the course taken by the Government to provide means to enable Canada to bear her share in this terrible war.
Mr. D. B. NEELY (Humboldt): Mr. Speaker, I have listened with some degree of interest to the remarks of my hon. friend
from South Grey (Mr. Ball), and I must express my regret that I cannot agree with a number of his conclusions. The hon. gentleman, and other hon. gentlemen on the Government side, seem to view with very great complacency the tariff proposals we are now considering. I can quite understand that the mental attitude of the hon. gentleman might be influenced to some extent by the fact that his livelihood is gained in an industry which certainly will benefit largely by the proposals in this Budget. My hon. friend deprecates the idea of putting class against class, the manufacturer against the farmer and the farmer against the manufacturer, and I quite agree with him that there should be the best possible relationship between all elements of our citizenship. I agree with him also when he says that the farmers appreciate the presence of the manufacturers in this country; and I agree with him when he says that the manufacturers appreciate the farmers.
I should say they do, and they will appreciate them a great deal more when these tariff proposals have become law. My hon. friend, who is a practical business man, comes to the defence of the Government when he says we must not blame their policy for the widespread depression that exists in commercial and financial affairs throughout Canada.
I must differ sharply with my hon. friend in his conclusions, for, in my judgment, the policy of this Government since it came into office has had a great deal to do with the financial and commercial depression that exists in Canada to-day. This Government came into power on a policy which, if it meant anything at all, meant restriction of trade to the Dominion. If a policy of restriction of trade has not for its logical conclusion commercial depression and unemployment, then I understand nothing of the principles of political economy.
The defeat of the trade agreement of 1911, brought about iby the protectionist arguments of hon. gentlemen who now occupy the Government benches, is and must be considered largely responsible for the present commercial depression. In the first place, it was a great blow to production in this country, in that the great community engaged in the industry of agriculture, which is the foundation of Canada's prosperity, was .prevented from obtaining, on terms of absolute preference, what in my judgment and in the judgment of the great
*majority of my constituents "was the best possible market in the civilized world.
Subtopic: PROPOSED WAR TAXATION.