Mr. J. A. CAMPBELL (Nelson):
Mr. Speaker, it seems to be the consensus of opinion in this House that the Budget speech of the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. A. K. Maclean) was a businesslike and comprehensive effort and that his taxation provisions are along right lines. However no taxation proposals are free from criticism and such as has been given has been mainly .of a constructive character, being of the nature of suggestions with the idea that certain changes would bring the Budget still more in harmony with existing conditions. There are so many things to be considered in a large question of this kind, that I venture the opinion that were the hon. acting minister himself to go over the ground again he would' himself advocate some material changes. It is not in a spirit of condemnation, but with the same helpful idea that has actuated previous speakers, that I shall venture to discuss certain items.
A feature of the Budget proposals which stands out prominently in this connection is the tax on tea. I am anxiously looking forward to the minister's explanation as to why he proposed a specific duty on tea rather than an ad valorem duty. Tea is a commodity rvhich, owing to its universal use, would lend itself to a tax which would
bear equitably upon all. Those who are' in the poorer circumstances of life buy the cheaper brands of tea, while those who are in in (better financial circumstances buy the more expensive brands. The result is that an ad valorem tax would bear equitably on the different classes of society. In this case a straight duty of ten cents per pound has been fixed, so that the burden is not equitably distributed. Possibly the acting minister has an explanation -for this.
In this case the burden is greater than it appears, for although the tariff is only ten cents per pound, it is placed presumably on the import price of tea, on which two or possibly three profits will be charged, with the result that by the time it reaches the consumer the tariff will have increased the price of a pound of tea by twelve, fifteen or sixteen cents-and this increase will be no less on a forty cent pound of tea than it is on tea which sells at $1.40.
In the West we have always looked forward to the time in the near future when the duty on agricultural implements would be materially reduced, if not altogether eliminated. It was stated some time ago that an arrangement had been made whereby matters affecting the tariff should not be considered during this- session of the House, or before the conclusion of the war. I am in conformity with hon. gentlemen from Saskatchewan who have already addressed the House, and who say that as far as they know such an arrangement was not made. For my part, I never heard of it until I came to this House. I have been confidently expecting that some reduction, at any rate, would be made on agricultural implements, thus lightening the burden resting on the farmer and bringing about that which is of such serious importance at this time, increased production. However, the West will do. its duty; will hear whatever burdens are placed upon it; will even accept more or less gracefully any unfair discrimination that may ibe made in connection with the tariff. We reserve, however, to ourselves, the right to our opinion of those who use the tariff for their own advantage, at the same time pretending .to wear the cloak of patriotism. I regret that some measure of reduction has not been made in the tariff on .agricultural implements; perhaps there are reasons of State more important than I know of why this has not been done. We shall, therefore, in the meantime, in view of existing conditions have to wait, hut trust it will not toe for long.
The acting minister intimated that the debt of Canada is now $1,200,000,000. The interest on this debt at 5 per cent would be $60,000,000-and the principal amount is increasing by leaps and 'bounds. Interest charges and pensions will certainly bring the annual outlay in this connection up to a far greater amount than what was the total outlay of the Government a few years ago. This is an increasing burden which, if the present plan is followed, is to be handed down to posterity. It seems to me that the situation is not as it should be. While posterity should, perhaps, have to bear a large share of the burdens of the war, it is possible that.too great a share is being unloaded on them. The remedy for this state of affairs is rather in the nature of a preventive; that is, we should pay more at the present time-. Now is the time to tax the people; the people are prepared to pay and to accept with equanimity and patience whatever reasonable burdens are placed upon them. Any criticism we have to make along this line is that the acting minister has not gone far enough in his taxation proposals. Incomes might be taxed to a greater extent than they have. been. I am informed that a man in England who is receiving a yearly income of $6,000 pays $900 by way of income tax, whereas a man receiving a similar income in Canada pays only $120. No matter what we at home have to pay in money, the burden we have to bear cannot compare with the sacrifice of those who are fighting our battles at the front. There is far too great a discrepancy between the $900 paid in England and the $120 paid in Canada on the same amount of annual income. I am not contending that at this time the income tax in Canada should be as great as it is in England, but the discrepancy should not be nearly as marked as it is.
As has been pointed out on several occasions, the Government should exercise the most- rigid economy in the administration of all its departments. Several ministers have already indicated in what way this economy is to be brought about; others, we are satisfied will follow along the same lines. But there is an opportunity now under. Enion Government for practising -such economy and making it of the most rigid nature, that has not prevailed hitherto under any government that Canada has had. The Union Government can set an example which all future Governments of Canada, whether Union or of the party variety, will feel it incumbent upon them to follow strictly-it will be hard for them to get
away from it. I do not advocate that Civil Service salaries should be cut down, except to the extent that many salaries paid to those who are uselessly employed might be eliminated. As a matter of fact, in quite a number of cases salaries should now be increased. I might mention specifically salaries in connection with certain departments of the post office, with regard to which more will be said later.
As the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Kn-ox) pointed out last night, there is another way of providing for the tremendous debt that the country will have incurred for war purposes, and that is by creating as much wealth in the country as .we can.-As he pointed out, there is no way whereby so much wealth can be created with so little effort as by giving proper attention to our vast natural resources. With the exception of the three prairie provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, these natural resources belong to the provinces themselves. In the three provinces which I have mentioned, however, the natural resources -belong to the Dominion. Vast resources have not yet been alienated from the Crown.; possibly they were not known to exist hitherto, or the situation might not be as it is. Developments have -taken place within the last few years which show that immense resources exist in the northern parts of thetse provinces which hitherto have been undreamed of. These prairie provinces have been looked upon -as great wheat producing areas, -solely devoted to the raising of grains and cattle. But would it be surprising to you, Mr. Speaker, and to bon. gentlemen of the House to know that a comparatively small proportion of the: vast areas' of these provinces is really known as wheat producing land, and that only a very small proportion of this is actually used in the raising of grain and cattle? To illustrate this, I point out that Prince Albert, which is looked upon' as a city pretty far in the north, is really -several miles south of a line which might mark the northern boundary of southern Saskatchewan. That is, Prince Albert is down in- the southern part of the province of Saskatchewan, thus leaving the vast northern part of the province to a certain extent unknown land.
Some years ago a scheme was devised for the marketing of the increasing crops of grain of the prairie provinces in a more expeditious and less -expensive manner. The idea was to build a railway from the wheat fields to Hudson bay. It is not
within the purview of my remarks to discuss at all the Hudson Bay railway. I do not need to argue the advisability of the construction of such a railroad on the grounds mentioned, because I know of no national enterprise that has had behind it such unanimity on the part of the people as the construction of this road. Both great political parties are pledged to its support. Both of them had this programme in their platforms. The right hon. gentlemen who now lead the respective sides of this House both spoke in favour of the project, and addresses along the same lines were delivered by Sir Charles Tupper. When Saskatchewan and Alberta *were formed into provinces, the platforms of both parties in the first elections in those provinces contained provisions to the effect that it was necessary, in the interests of the country, and particularly in the interests of the West, that this road should be built. If there is any question regarding the attitude of the people of the West as a whole in the matter of tariff reform, in the matter of reducing the duty on agricultural implements or eliminating it altogether, there is- absolutely no question in the minds of the people of the West, they are absolutely and entirely united, as to the advisability of constructing the Hudson Bay railway.
As I have previously intimated, the argument used hitherto has been entirely of the character stated, but a large quantity of water has passed over the rapids of the Nelson river during the past few years, and now we find that conditions have materially changed and that there are other arguments, probably of more importance than those already advanced, for the construction and early completion of that railway. It is well known that there are in Hudson bay resources of great value, in particular, minerals of various kinds, and fish. The construction of the railway will, therefore, give Canada another ocean port, and will bring to the people, particularly to the people of the West, the benefit of the immense resources which lie in and around the shores of Hudson bay. The most important feature in this connection is the fact that we now know that in the northern parts of the western provinces, and particularly in Manitoba, in which more results have been brought to light within the last few years, and in which, by the way, lies the whole extent of the Hudson Bay railway, resources of great importance have been shown to exist. Up to that time that northern territory -was looked upon as a vast waste of rock, forests, water and
muskeg, and the railway was simply considered as a bridge between the wheat fields of these provinces and Hudson bay, and regret was expressed that the intervening distance was so great, because there would be no local traffic therein whereby the railway could earn any revenue. In the mind of the people, the only industry in that country was the fur trade. The fur trade is still very important, producing a yearly revenue of a million dollars in that district alone, but it is the least important of the resources to be found in that particular , stretch of territory.
People tell me that there are no agricultural possibilities in that northern country. There is a general opinion that land that is not of agricultural value, that territory that does not produce crops of grain or raise stock, is of no particular use. I do not for a moment 'admit that there are no agricultural possibilities, but I want to emphasize *the fact that these are not the only important resources; that there are other resources that are worthy of taking a place beside those of an 'agricultural nature. But in that northern country there are great areas which are suitable for farming purposes of different kinds. It is true that there has not been definite exploration and investigation of the agricultural possibilities of that northern country, but explorers have been there at different times, missionaries have lived there, surveyors and other men have been sent out by the Dominion Government, and there are settlers in different parts of the country. I have here a number of opinions regarding the agricultural possibilities of that stretch of country, but I shall just quote a f.ew of them. I shall start off with a quotation from an article by Mr. J. B. Tyrell, than whom, perhaps, there is no one more cognizant of the situation in , the northern country. Mr. Tyrell has made many trips of exploration throughout that territory, and he has, during the past twenty or twenty-five years, paid considerable attention to it. He says:
Incidentally we determined the existence of an extensive area of rich alluvial land in the valley of Grass river and its vicinity.
This is in the neighbourhood of a mineral deposit about a hundred miles north of The Pas:
For a hundred miles north of the Pas the country is almost level, and the soil is often quite thin, being underlain by flat-lying beds *of limestone. Thence onward almost to the end of the track the land is generally rolling and sparsely wooded with spruee and poplar. The underlying rock is chiefly granite hut it
is usually covered1 with a considerable thickness, perhaps 'thirty feet or more, of beautifullv stratified clay which looks as if it would yield abundant crops to the farmer if it were properly cultivated. Very few cuttings on the railroad go down into the granite rock, but there are a number which show beautiful sections of this rich stratified1 soil.
Mr. Dickson, of the Department of the Interior, who made a special trip of exploration and investigation into that territory, has this to say:
Prom 50 to 76 per cent thereof is arable land, and probably has a good agricultural future. I estimate the area of that portion included from north to south, between Wintering and Cross lakes, and from east to west, between Setting and Sipiwesk lakes, at 2,000 s Mr. R. H. Campbell, Director of Forestry of the Forestry Branch, Department of the Interior of Canada, in an address delivered before the Canadian Forestry Association at Winnipeg in 19X3, said: In northern Manitoba, an area approximating three to four million acres on the Saskatchewan river might by drainage works be made of agricultural value. At present lake and muskeg cover most of this area. A start has already been made in the raising of cattle in the district around Moose lake, and has met with very great success. Several men are engaged in the business and have fair sized herds. In the future these will be increased, and doubtless other men will engage in the enterprise. The oldest inhabitant is Mr. T. H. P. Lamb, who in talking to me some time ago said tha,t a two-year old steer which he drove into The Pas in March, tipped the scale at 1,224 pounds. It was rolling in fat and had been out in the open ever since it was a calf. I have travelled over that northern country extensively, and while I have not gone far back from the railway, except along the watercourses, I can confirm the statements made in the extracts I have read. For a distance of a hundred and twenty-five miles north of The Pas to the crossing of the Nelson river, at Mile 240, there is a territory which compares favourably with the scrub land of the southern portion of Manitoba. The soil is a rich clay loam, with sub-soil of different kinds, and is capable of growing satisfactory crops.
Mr. R. H. Campbell, Director of Forestry of the Forestry Branch, Department of the Interior of Canada, in an address delivered before the Canadian Forestry Association at Winnipeg in 19X3, said:
In northern Manitoba, an area approximating three to four million acres on the Saskatchewan river might by drainage works be made of agricultural value. At present lake and muskeg cover most of this area.
A start has already been made in the raising of cattle in the district around Moose lake, and has met with very great success. Several men are engaged in the business and have fair sized herds. In the future these will be increased, and doubtless other men will engage in the enterprise. The oldest inhabitant is Mr. T. H. P. Lamb, who in talking to me some time ago said tha,t a two-year old steer which he drove into The Pas in March, tipped the scale at 1,224 pounds. It was rolling in fat and had been out in the open ever since it was a calf.
I have travelled over that northern country extensively, and while I have not gone far back from the railway, except along the watercourses, I can confirm the statements made in the extracts I have read. For a distance of a hundred and twenty-five miles north of The Pas to the crossing of the Nelson river, at Mile 240, there is a territory which compares favourably with the
scrub land of the southern portion of Manitoba. The soil is a rich clay loam, with sub-soil of different kinds, and is capable of growing satisfactory crops.