Mr. SAMUEL CHARTERS (Peel):
was very much surprised at the tone of the remarks of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Kennedy, Essex) who has just taken his seat. Most young men now-a-days are cheerful in their utterances, but the hon. member was very doleful-he sees nothing around him that is good. He complains of what he calls "the flag waving" of the Minister of Militia (Mr. Guthrie). My hon. friend will not he accused of anything of that kind. Let me say that the Minister of Militia, though he may be sneered at by hon. gentlemen opposite who are not in sympathy with him, stands high in the affections of the people of this country because of the position he took
three or four years ago when it meant a very great deal for him to take the stand he did.
The complaint is also made that we have too many generals. Surely my hon. friend knows that the generals were not the product of any action on the part of the Government; they were the product of the war. These officers won their generalships by sacrifices and by services to their country, and had other gentlemen acted similarly they might have also been promoted.
My hon. friend' from Essex has complained in regard to everything. Judging by his speech, if he had his way the militia would not be needed, the naval service would be discontinued, and the railway situation might be regarded as settled. Many years ago we were accustomed to what were called "blue ruin" speeches, but not much has been heard of them of late. Now we have had a resurrection of those sentiments by my hon. friend from Essex. However, such views are not very generally entertained by members on either side of the House. I do not think my hon. friend will strengthen himself in the town of Windsor by the position which he takes in relation to the manufacturers of the country. He tells us that a number of manufacturers visited the Minister of Finance before the Budget was brought down
that they came to Ottawa, looking for more protection. Surely my hon. friend did, not expect the Minister of Finance to intimate to them that they must not come. My hon. friend adds, however, with respect to the interview "They did not get it." If that is the position surely there can be no complaint on that score.
Then my hon. friend said , that half the factories in the country are closed and the other half are not operating on full time. All they want, he says, is an election in order to have a chance to turn the Government out. Then, I suppose, they will go full steam ahead.
My hon. friend tells us we should buy goods from the United States if the value of the goods is just a little bit better than the value we can obtain at home. I do not think that is a good policy myself, and I am satisfied that the people of this country, to a very large degree, do not believe so either although I think we have a right to give them every advantage so far as we can do so.
I do not know that I would be wise in attempting to follow any further the statements that have been made by the hon. gentleman. They will be read throughout
the country with very great surprise by those who had expected from the young, cheerful, coming and expectant Finance Minister something more encouraging and li apeful.
In this, as in every other Budget debate, it is contended that the policy of protection works injury to those engaged in agriculture. Protection, we are told, has made for the abandonment of farming, for rural depopulation, for decreased production, and for unequal and burdensome taxation. If that charge could be proven I do not think the farmers of Canada would have supported the policy for so many years. They would have abolished it. But the conditions that obtain in the province of Ontario-that is where any rural depopulation or shifting of population is most pronounced-are practically the same as they are elsewhere.
For instance, in Michigan it was officially reported that there were no fewer than 18,132 farms abandoned in last year, that
1.700.000 acres were undeveloped, that
30.000 farm houses were vacant, and that
46.000 persons left farms in three years and 10,000 in one year. The same conditions prevail in the state of Indiana. According to a statement made in April last by the Wall street journal, 255,000 farmers- left the land in one year in that state, 24,000 vacant farm houses were reported in New York State, and only
300.000 farmers remained on the land in that state. So if there has been some shifting of population in this province, the same condition exists in the states across the line. The protective tariff, which is higher there, has not kept the people on the land; nor has the free trade, or near free trade policy had that effect in England, because the same condition exists there.
What are conditions in the province of Ontario? We have been told over and over again during the past forty years that 3,500 people had left the farms every year and had gone to the cities and towns or elsewhere, and it has been contended that the Government, or the National Policy, is responsible for this so-called rural depopulation. If the policy of the government is to blame, then one side is just as responsible as the other, because for fifteen years the Liberals were in power in the Dominion and for twenty-five years in the province, and if it was possible to remedy that condition of affairs by legislation they would have done so. But the statements are not -quite borne out by the facts. For instance,
those who left the rural parts of the province were not by any means all farmers. In almost every part of old Ontario there are many unincorporated villages, the inhabitants of which are classed as rural residents. Because of the changed conditions these villages have been practically wiped out in some places and the people have gone elsewhere. But they were not all farmers; there were the corner tavern keeper, the grocer, blacksmith, the wagon maker, and the others employed in different lines of trade; they have gone, and in that way there has been a reduction in population. But in addition to that we have other causes that I need not refer to here, one of them being the exceedingly low birthrate in certain rural parts of the province.
But if those people have left the province in any considerable numbers-and undoubtedly they have-they have not been lost to Canada, because they have gone to one or other of the western provinces and are now assisting in developing the country in the various capacities in which they are engaged. That is borne out by the fact that in this House 33 members representing western constituencies were born in the province of Ontario, and I think that should be regarded as a recommendation in favour of those members.
But whatever may have been the conditions in the past, the changing of population has ceased. There is no' longer a decrease in the rural population of the province of Ontario. The population of 1919 is greater than that of 1918 and the population of 1920 is greater than that of 1919. The figures are:
The increase is not very large, it is true, but there is an increase, and it is about equal to half of the decrease in the years referred to. Then, on the other side, instead of a further increase in the population of the towns and villages there has been a decrease. The decrease last year compared with 1919 was 8,255, or two and a half times as great as the decrease in the rural population in the years, immediately preceding. This, I think, furnishes very good evidence that the so-called exodus from the land, in so far at least as the province of Ontario is concerned, has practically ceased; and i* evidence also that the people in the-towns and villages are seeking employment in the country, a condition of affairs which will be generally agreeable to all those who are interested in the progress of the country.
But while there has been that decrease in population in those years, production has not decreased. Improved machinery, improved methods, improved conditions have made possible increased production with the decreased labour. Many millions of dollars, as everybody knows, have been expended in the construction of good roads, and this has made possible the easier marketing of farm products. To-day a man can drive a distance of fifteen, twenty or twenty-five miles with half the time, labour and expense that were occasioned in days gone by. Millions of dollars have also been expended in establishing the rural mail service, which has been another convenience to the people in every part of the Dominion, perhaps more especially so to those in the older portions of Ontario. Then, too there has been invested in telephones in the province of Ontario no less a sum than $50,000,000, with 360,000 telephones in use, or one for every seven persons. I mention these things for the purpose of indicating the changes that have taken place and also the improvements that were possible because of those changes.
Let me give an illustration furnished by the Department of Agriculture a short time ago. In 1850 it took one man 39 hours to produce an acre of corn; to-day it requires only 18 hours. In 1850 it took a man 61 hours to produce an acre of wheat; now it takes only ten hours. In 1850 it took a man 21 hours to harvest an acre of hay; to-day it takes only 8 hours. In Belgium one man works five acres of land; in England, 10 acres; in Ontario, 40 acres. That is, Ontario's production per man is very much higher than in those two countries, although their yield per acre is very much greater than ours.
As to our field crops and other farm produce during the years that have been complained about, taking the years prior to the war, the following statement will be interesting as applying to Ontario:
Field crops $114,000,000 $160,000,000Farm buildings .. 163,000,000 345,000,000Live stock
This is not an indication that agriculture was going back in that province. The same applies to the Dominion. The total farm products of Canada in 1900 amounted to $364,000,000; in 1910, $663,000,000; in 1919, $1,197,000,000.
If there have been abandoned farms, as is contended-and there were some, but they are very few in so far as that pprt
of the country is concerned-there were also abandoned factories. It is sometimes contended that every farmer is a man who is suffering, and that every manufacturer is a man who is prospering; but in the ten years 4,500 failures of manufacturing concerns have taken place in Canada. And, let me say that rural depopulation has ceased to exist in Ontario, if it ever did exist. Abandoned farms are few where the land is good and reasonably certain for cultivation.
It cannot be denied, however, that there is still a shortage of farm labour, and nobody has been able to suggest a remedy that can be adopted to provide against that shortage. Everybody knows that there is very considerable unemployment in the cities, while the farmers require hired men. The reason that those idle men in the cities are not employed in the country is because the farmers are unable to pay the wages demanded, and those who are out of employment refuse to accept the wages the farmer is able to pay. If any one can devise means by which the two can be brought together, he will be doing a good service to his country, but so far nobody has proposed legislation or any other remedy that will accomplish that end.
While everybody is anxious to see as many people as possible working on the land, it would not be well for everybody, or even nearly everybody, to be a farmer. It is a fact that those countries in which farming is the chief occupation of the people are not countries which we look upon as examples, so to speak. In Mexico nearly all the people are on the land. In Russia 85. per cent of the people are still engaged in farming, and in India the proportion is equally large. An hon. gentleman referred the other day to a native of China, a grandson of Confucius, as giving valuable instruction to the people of this and other countries. In China the people are largely on the land, and Canadians, supposed to be downtrodden and taxed to death, are subscribing money to keep the Chinese people from starving in the famine districts. I mention these things because in recent years it has been a common practice on many platforms to assert that the farmers all over Canada, particularly those in Ontario, are suffering because of the policy of protection. It is a fact, however, that under the policy of protection the farmers of Canada have prospered as they never prospered before, and they are prospering to-day much more than they would have done had the policy
of free trade which is advocated in some quarters been adopted.
Another complaint we frequently hear is that the farmers are subjected to unfair taxation. There is no doubt that the farmers are able and willing to hear their fair share of the burden of taxation, and the complaint that they are unduly taxed is not justified by the facts. One complaint that is heard very frequently is that the duty on farm implements is a heavy burden upon those engaged in agriculture. But those who have made a careful study of the situation say otherwise. The hon. member for North Oxford (Mr. Nesbitt), himself a farmer, is an example. He showed the other night that $28 per annum was the amount paid in customs taxes by the farmer on the ordinary 100 acres of land. If that is true-and I have no doubt that it is-surely there is not much ground for complaint on that score.
Then there is the other argument that the tariff increases the price of farm implements, and that if the duty were removed, if we had free trade, prices would come down. But the experiences of the past have not shown that to be the case either. The question of binder twine has been before the country for many years. There is no tax on binder twine, and if the arguments of free traders hold good that article should be just as cheap in Canada as it is in the United States. But the facts are that this year in Ontario-* and I have no doubt in the western provinces as well-the price of binder twine was from 20 to 211 cents per pound, while in the United States-Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois-the price was 161 cents. This is an instance of what we might expect if the duty on other articles was removed.
Then, there is the other article about; which so much has been said, the cream separator. Mr. Findley gave a very exhaustive statement on this subject last fall. He pointed out that a cream separator sells for $105, no duty being imposed, but that a mower, in which there is very much more material and the construction of which involves more labour, sells for $97 although it is subject to a duty of 121 per cent. These are sample cases; I am sure that instances of this kind could be multiplied indefinitely.
The question has been raised whether the burden is too heavy in other directions. Does the income tax bear too heavily upon the farmers of Canada? Everybody knows that it does not. Answering a question in the House of Commons a few weeks ago the Finance Minister said that the
amount collected in income tax up to February 28, 1921 was $62,687,258 and that of this amount the farmers had paid in 1917 and 1918-the returns for 1919 being not then complete-$957,980. This shows that the income tax is being carried by those who are best able to pay and is evidence of the wisdom of the Finance Minister in imposing it as he has done.
We hear a good deal this afternoon about the sales tax. I said at the beginning of my remarks that the member for Essex was in a doleful mood; I do not think he was any more doleful, however, than our usually cheerful friend the member for Mackenzie (Mr. Reid) : The sales tax,
according to him, was everything that was bad. The hon. member estimated that the sales tax would amount to $147.50 per family.