May 18, 1921

UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

Well, Mr. Speaker, I have given this comparative statement in connection with the figures supplied by the Minister of Militia. If the figures which I have given are wrong and the minister can prove that they are wrong, I assume that he will have some chance to do so on a future occasion.

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Prove it yourself-simply refer to pages 29 and 30 of the report in your hand and you will be convinced.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

The minister occupied a considerable amount of the time of the House when he took part in this debate a few days ago; he presented his arguments to the best of his ability and he waved the flag very energetically. I do not propose to let him take up any of my time now.

In speaking the other day, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Cowan), who has seen fit to interrupt my remarks at this time, said that the Opposition in this House had wings. I submit to you, Sir, that no one ever charged the hon. member for Regina with having wings. It would not be a surprising thing to many of us sitting in this quarter of the House if we saw a pair of horns sprouting on his troubled brow at any time.

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UNION
UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

I find little in the proposals of the hon. Minister of Finance as contained in his Budget speech upon which I could congratulate him. Someone has termed his proposals " makeshift," and I cannot find any better term to use; in respect to the taxation proposals, it is a clear case of shifting. The business profits war tax has been abolished, and in its place we have an increase of the sales tax, thus shifting the burden from the shoulders of those who are able to pay to the shoulders of the great consuming and producing masses of the people- shifting, because the Government has got away from the direct method of imposing taxation to the indirect method. After pressure had been brought to bear upon the Government they imposed a tax upon incomes, but every proposal Of the Minister of Finance in his Budget speech with respect to taxation is of an indirect nature, showing that the policy of the Government is to impose indirect instead of direct taxation. Some weeks ago the Minister of Finance

called representatives of the manufacturing industries in this country and others into consultation with him, presumably for discussion of the best methods of levying and collecting these new taxes. No representative, however, of the greatest industry in this country was present at that consultation. Neither agriculture nor labour was represented there, although it is upon those two classes that these taxes will fall the heaviest. The policy of the Government has been and is to toady to the big interests of this country, and that is given effect to in the imposition of these new taxes. The sales (tax has been increased by 50 per cent, and that, to my mind, is a direct increase in the customs tariff. But what are we to expect? Some one has said that you cannot expect to have the perfume of roses around while there is a polecat under the table. Neither can you expect to have fair methods of taxation imposed by a government whose policy is dictated by, and wholly in the interest of, the big interests of the country.

We have heard a great deal about tariff revision. Back in 1919, when some of us withdrew our support from the Government, we were told that the Government would revise the tariff. We were also taunted and told that it would be revised in such a way that we would be sorry that we had not stuck to the ship. Now, 1920 has gone; 1921 is here, and I just wonder if the provisions of the tariff, as presented in the proposals of the Minister of Finance, meet with the approval of those members of the House from Western Canada who are still supporting the Government, and if they think that these proposals will be satisfactory to the people of their constituencies.

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UNION

Walter Davy Cowan

Unionist

Mr. COWAN:

I am quite ready to take a chance on that.

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

It is quite true that the Government appointed a tariff commission to investigate this matter, and this commission travelled throughout Canada at very great expense during the fall months of last year and the early part of the present year, and we have 1 per cent increase in the tariff as a result of these new-taxes. Our protectionist friends are endeavouring to raise the class cry in this country. They have gone so far as to say that the farmers of Canada are opposed to the growth of our towns and cities. That statement is absolutely wrong. No farmer in this country is opposed to the natural growth of our towns and cities; but when

our towns and cities are built up by the depletion of our rural sections, the farmer or any one else in Canada is justified in claiming that that is not a healthy growth. When you deplete rural sections of Canada of their producing element, you at once reduce production, and as a natural result, you increase the cost of living.

The primary duty of this Parliament and of the Government of the day is to develop the natural resources of Canada, to draft a policy that will enable both capital and labour to apply themselves to this development with some chance of success. Under existing economic conditions, this development will not be undertaken by thinking people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) says that his Government and party stand by the principle of protection and the old National Policy, a policy that, in my humble judgment, is the real cause of Canada having but eight or nine million people to-day when she should have at least double that number.

Agriculture is the basic industry of this country, and if we have a fiscal policy that will admit of the development of this and others of our natural resources, we would soon have villages, towns and cities, and a home market worthy of the name. Our manufacturing friends make a great deal of this plea of the home market, and well they may, for under the protective tariff, they are able to exact from the people of Canada greater prices than they can command for their products in any other country. If our manufacturing friends would have the good sense to let up on this cry for protection and give to this country an opportunity of developing itself along natural lines, by a general reduction of the tariff, especially on the implements of production, I believe that in ten years' time, through this development, through the increased population, their sales would increase to such an extent that they would be ashamed to think that they had ever demanded protection from this or any other government. The old National Policy has been on trial in this country for forty-three years, and under it we have lost many of our best citizens. From the 1920 United States' census, we learn that there are 1,117,136 native-born Canadians in the United States. If you take three to the family, that would mean that there are 3,351,408 citizens of the United States who are of Canadian birth or origin. This almost equals our total immigration to this country during the last thirty years. We have been filling our country up with

foreign-born people, while we have been losing to the United States our own Canadian-born citizens.

Further, this Government claims that its policy is clear-cut and definite. Is this the case? It is true that the Prime Minister says that they stand by the "principle of protection." In a speech delivered by the Prime Minister in the city of Regina last fall, he said that he was not a "high protectionist," while the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Ballantyne) told the House the other day during this debate that the Government stood four-square for "moderate protection." Before the Government can claim that its policy is clear-cut and definite, some one should explain what percentage of protection the Prime Minister stands for when he disclaims being a high protectionist. And will the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries kindly explain what he means by moderate protection? Moderate protection to a moderate man might mean a very low tariff, but is there any one who thinks that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries is a moderate man? Would he be satisfied with a moderate tariff? I submit that the shipbuilding policy of the hon. gentleman must be held to banish him forever from the ranks of moderate people. The figures submitted by my hon. leader in his speech of yesterday in connection with some companies with which the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries is connected would go to show that there was enough water in the stock of these companies almost to "float his merchant marine.

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

Would the hon. gentleman allow me a question? I would like to put to him the same question that I put to his leader yesterday. There is a plank in your platform favouring 50 per cent preference for Great Britain, and absolute free trade with her in five years. I want an answer to that last particularly. Are you in favour of that?

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

The minister is adopting a tone that is altogether unbecoming. He is demanding something. I have no hesitation whatever in answering his question, but I do not care to be driven to do anything. If the minister would put his question in a gentlemanly way I would be glad to answer it.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I do not think the hon. member is justified in saying that another hon. member has not acted or spoken in a gentlemanly way.

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. May I use the word "moderate " instead?

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UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

What is your answer?

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UNION
UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

On that question I stand absolutely where my leader stands.

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UNION
?

Mr. HALLAD AY@

Nobody knows where he stands.

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UNION
L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I must ask hon. gentlemen who desire to ask a question of the hon. member who has the floor to rise in their places for the purpose of doing so, and I must remind them that they must first obtain his permission.

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UNION

John Frederick Johnston

Unionist

Mr. JOHNSTON:

So I submit, Mr. Speaker, that when the Government calls on hon. members on this side of the House to explain their policy, it might be well for the Government and its supporters to remember that the people of this country will ask them to say just what they mean by these ambiguous terms to which I have alluded.

The question may be asked, what room is there for the development of the natural resources of this country? I shall only refer to the, industry with which I am best acquainted, that of agriculture. I shall give to the House figures of the total arable acreage in the three Prairie Provinces, the acreage under cultivation, and the amount in dollars derived from the sale of the products of that acreage last year. In the province of Alberta there are 81,300,000 acres of arable land, of which 11,764,167 are cultivated; Manitoba, 25,223,348 acres of arable land, with 4,637,660 acres cultivated; Saskatchewan, 57,884,160 acres of arable land, with 22,549,669 cultivated, or a total arable acreage of 164,407,508 acres, with 38,951,496 acres cultivated, or less than 25 per cent of the arable land under cultivation. There was derived in dollars from the sale of field crops in these three provinces last year the following amounts: Alberta, $199,033,500; Manitoba, $142,000,000; Saskatchewan, $350,521,010; or a total of $691,554,510. As I have already said, there was less than 25 per cent of the arable acreage under cultivation. So if you multiply that total by four you would have a return of $2,766,218,040, and still leave a margin of the arable land

uncultivated. In these figures I have not included the returns from live stock, dairy products and sfi forth. In connection with this matter of the further development of our natural resources it can be seen that if the agricultural resources of the three Prairie Provinces wetre almost fully developed, you would have a return in one year, on the same basis as last year, more than equalling the total of our national debt.

I have on more than one occasion in this House said that the greatest need in Canada to-day was greater production, and that to get greater production we needed more people. If we had these two things, it would necessarily mean that we would need wider markets, but I submit that under prevailing conditions in Canada today, the further development of our natural resources is out of the question, and we may as well stop talking about further immigration until we get in this country a government big enough and courageous enough to give us a fiscal policy that will give some chance of success to the people who go on the land. Any great development under present conditions will not result in lasting benefit to Canada. One would think that this Government, having put some 20,000 odd returned men on the land in Canada during the last few years, would give very serious consideration to the conditions under which these men have to labour. These men, returned from the war, eager and anxious to get back into civil life, accepted the Government's offer of assistance to go on the land; and now they find themselves up against conditions, over which they have no control, which make it impossible for them to carry on. In this connection I wish to place on Hansard some figures taken from a report issued by the Soldier Settlement Board on February 1 of this year.

At Six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at Eight o'clock.

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May 18, 1921