Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:
The question is on the amendment. I would point out that
The Address-Mr. Shaw
the form is not in accordance with Beau-chesne's Rules, but I suppose that can be changed without altering the spirit of the matter that has been submitted by the hon. member. His Honour, the Speaker, will deal with the question of the form of the amendment.
Mr. JOS. T. SHAW (Calgary West): Mr. Speaker, I join with those who have preceded me in congratulating the mover and seconder of the resolution for the adoption of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne upon their efforts. They have worthily acquitted themselves of the task entrusted to them. May I be permitted also, Mr. Speaker, to tender my humble congratulations to yourself upon the conclusion of your successful and delicate mission overseas. Those of us who are familiar with the manner in which you fulfil your high office in this House had every reason to expect that in those delicate negotiations you would conduct yourself with becoming dignity, and with honour to yourself and credit to this country. May I also say that I am sure you have amply, realized our highest expectations in that regard. It was a very fitting thing indeed that the government of France should donate to Canada as a gift to this country, 250 acres of land on the historic Vimy Ridge. It is a very fitting thing indeed that this government should not hesitate to erect upon that historic ridge a monument which I am convinced will be a thing of beauty and a joy forever, a monument which, through all the ages, will constitute a challenge and an inspiration to the growing manhood and womanhood of this country,-a challenge to greater service, and an inspiration to a fuller duty. May I also venture to say that it seems to me that through the coming centuries the children of France will have before them a constant reminder and a fitting memorial of the service which was rendered by the sons of Canada in the days when the liberty, the equality and the fraternity of the citizenship of the republic was threatened.
It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, that the challenge of the country to this parliament at the present time lies in two directions. I am convinced that first of all the challenge is to economy-to economy not only in expenditure, but economy also in the administration of the government. We must of necessity view with considerable alarm, as the responsible representatives of the people of Canada, the rapid and substantial increase in the public debt. We cannot fail but be impressed with the increasing and over-whelming cost of government. What can we do, what
answer can this parliament make, to that challenge? Is there any way out of this increasing cost, which ultimately must necessarily if continued bring us to the very abyss of bankruptcy? I think there are several things we may do. In the first place I think we should make an effort to decentralize government. There seems to have been, through the passing years, a tendency towards centralization of government, and especially a centralization of government in this particular city. Let me give one illustration, because I think we should not continue the policy of bringing the people to the government-* we should take the government to the people. The federal national parks of this country constitute an area, I think, of approximately 8,000 square miles. In the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia considerably over 7,000 square miles of the total area is found. In eastern Canada-and I mean by that practically the territory east of Manitoba -the national parks of Canada represent an area of only 160 acres. Yet we have established in Ottawa a large Parks Department, admittedly with a very efficient and able gentleman in charge. Now why should not that particular department, if we need such a department, be located at the very centre, where the activities of that department must necessarily be? If that were done, if that department were located at Banff, or some other convenient point, its work could be more satisfactorily and efficiently carried on than under present conditions. That is one thing, I think, that we must do; we must make a substantial effort towards decentralization of government. With that will come not only considerable economy but increased efficiency.
Co-related to the subject of economy in Canada, in both its expenditure and its administration, it seems to me the second challenge of our people to this parliament comes in the matter of taxation. If one were to examine in detail the various methods of taxation in force not only under our municipal governments, but also under our provincial and federal governments, I think he would be driven to the conclusion that governments first of all decide that a certain amount of money must be raised in order to meet their expenditures. Then they seek to impose a sufficient levy to secure, in the most rapid way, the required amount, without much reference to the accepted principles of taxation, without much reference to those accepted canons of taxation which have been undisputed for at least one hundred years. It seems to me that we should pay much greater
The A'ddress-Mr. Shaw
attention to this matter, and I propose, although the subject must be familiar to many of the members of this house, to suggest for consideration four cardinal principles or canons of taxation laid down by Adam Smith. I think that in the light of these canons we should examine the various methods of taxation applied, and endeavour to make them harmonize with these particular principles or else wipe them out altogether. The first principle I would cite is the following:
1. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation, is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists, what is called the equality or inequality of taxation.
2. The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain and not arbitrary.
3. Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner, in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it.
4. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state.
These have been the accepted principles of taxation for over a hundred years, as I suggested, and yet in all our departments of government we virtually obscure the fundamental principles. I think there is much in the suggestion made by the hon. gentleman from Springfield (Mr. Hoey). We require some sort of a tax conference. We require a delimitation of the fields of taxation as between the existing tax levying bodies. That may require, and probably does necessitate in the ultimate analysis a change in our British North America Act, but nevertheless, some steps should be taken in this, which seems to be a vital and essential matter. We should delimit the field, as far as possible as between the various tax collecting organizations, and then see that the taxes imposed comply with the accepted canons of taxation.
The debate on the Address, Mr. Speaker, is a splendid opportunity for members from various parts of the country to become acquainted with the actual conditions which exist in other parts. Spread out, as we are, for hundreds of miles along the northern fringe of this continent, it is, doubtless, true that there must be many diverse and divergent interests. It is difficult, indeed, for an individual in one part of the country to come to any conclusion with regard to the economic conditions in any other parts, and so it is desirable that, in this initial debate, the
conditions from all parts of the country should be brought to the attention of the House, in order that the House may be duly informed and may be able to act accordingly. And, therefore, I propose, for a few moments, to survey the existing conditions in that part of the country from which I come, and-: more particularly in the province of Alberta. It is actual practical facts that we desire. Principles are splendid, but we must first of all know the facts before we are in a position to apply the appropriate principles.
It is a platitude, indeed, that the agricultural industry, in its many ramifications, is the vital and the basic industry, so far as western Canada is concerned. In fact, I doubt not that I might go further and say that it is the essential and vital industry of all Canada, but looking at the conditions in this particular industry, as many hon. members are aware, nature has perhaps in the past year been unkind to large sections. The affliction of drought, hail, and other climatic conditions has left in its wake a considerable hardship, but nevertheless, so far as the western provinces are concerned, we find the largest crop in our history, and yet we find agriculture in a deplorable financial and economic condition. We find in Alberta that a large number of farms are being sacrificed and many are being abandoned, leaving as a heritage a weed menace for those to combat * who are content to remain upon adjoining land. We find a large number of these farmers are emigrating to the western and northwestern states. In some portions of Alberta, afflicted to a considerable extent with drought, depopulation, as I am informed.by one of the hon. members, varies in the district, extending south of the town of Hanna to north of the village of Tabor, from about thirty to fifty per cent. The beneficent effects of prosperous conditions in the agricultural industry are rapidly reflected in every other industry and business, not only in western Canada, but in eastern Canada, but as a result of the condition which now 5 p.m. exists in that industry we find very considerable urban depopulation. As an illustration we find, for instance, in the city from which I come, in the end of the month of December, there were something like five hundred vacant houses. An examination of the railway figures indicating the emigration, through the port of Kingsgat.e, which is one only of the avenues of exit from the province of Alberta to the States, shows that in the three months ending December 31st last, there has been an excess of emigration over immigration of approximately 5,000 paying passengers.
The Address-Mr. Shaw
Now these are actual facts and these are conditions which must be faced. I am not one of those who might properly be called a calamity howler, and I am not a pessimist. In fact, I think I would be a pessimist indeed if I failed to reveal to this House on this occasion these facts as I have found them. I personally have great faith in western Canada, I have great faith in all of Canada, and I trust these conditions may be but temporary and that they may shortly be removed.
What are the reasons for this condition in the agricultural industry? Because if we want to know the condition of western Canada we must ascertain the condition in the agricultural industry. None will deny-certainly I will not for a moment attempt to deny- that the chaotic political conditions in Europe have resulted in a chaotic economic and financial condition which is necessarily reflected in Canada to the detriment of our grain growers. But while it is true that these external factors are of great significance, it is also true that there are many internal handicaps to which I think this government might properly turn its attention. Before the war-there was a relativity, if you like, existing between the cost of production and the price which the farmer received for his product, which normal relativity is disturbed to-day. We find expensive production costs, we find expensive marketing costs, and we find only pre-war prices for the product raised.
I have endeavoured to make some little examination into the cost of production. It is a very difficult matter I admit but, many people have given it much consideration, endeavouring to take into consideration all the factors involved. I am informed that in the province of Saskatchewan in the year 1920 it cost approximately 72 cents to raise one bushel of wheat. I understand that in the province of Alberta it would necessarily cost a few cents more than that sum per bushel. The cost of production, as you will readily admit, is excessive. May I add to that sum the cost of preparation for market and the cost of transportation. Take the transportation costs from Calgary to Montreal. During the year 1922 examination revealed that the cost of transportation on % bushel of wheat varied from something like 40 cents a bushel to approximately 60 cents a bushel. Let me give the details of this figure. Threshing cost from 10 to 14 cents a bushel in Alberta this year. Haulage and elevator charges may be placed at the very modest sum of 2J cents a bushel. Then railway charges to Fort William 15-6 cents per bushel: elevator and cleaning and inspection
charges, 1J cents a bushel. From Fort William to Bay ports, according to the best information I have been able to get, the transporting cost would run from 3J to 10 cents a bushel. Then railway or canal transportation up to Montreal would not be less than 5 cents a bushel; elevator charges at bay ports, J cent per bushel; expenses at Montreal, 1J cents per bushel; insurance charges varying from -33, or approximately one-third cent per bushel, upwards. That makes a total cost in transportation charges alone, varying according to the particular part of the country, of from forty to something like sixty cents per bushel.
Hon. members can readily see that, with these excessive production costs and high transportation charges, it was impossible for the farmers of western Canada to raise grain at a profit during the past year. It is all very well to indicate these conditions. But what can, or what should the government do to reduce production costs? They should, it seems to me, make some definite effort to reduce or, preferably, to eliminate entirely the customs tariff from the implements of production and from the necessaries of life, including food and clothing and the other articles that are so essential to comfortable living, at least on the western plains. In the Speech from the Throne there is not one ray of hope in this connection; the Governor General's lips have been sealed in this matter. I think it is unfortunate that the government have not given some indication of their desire to live up to the pledges upon which they secured a mandate from the people of Canada. Further I am glad to see that the government does not hesitate now to have an investigation into the grain business. That investigation has long since been overdue. I think that probably the government have been altogether too solicitous of the views of certain members on this side of the House. I The investigation is necessary, and it should ft be conducted in the most thorough and the l-most complete manner.
Now, what can, or what should, the government do to lessen marketing costs? Last session we secured the restoration of the Crowsnest pass agreement through an act of parliament, or rather, perhaps, by the effluxion of time. The restoration of that agreement meant, I understand, a saving of approximately $30,000,000 to the farmers of western Canada. But what is the use of effecting a saving in that regard, when, at the same time, conditions exist upon the lakes which largely nullify the action taken by parliament? I notice that the government pro-
The Address-Mr. Shaw
pose3 to inquire, by royal commission, into the alleged combine which exists on the Great Lakes; and I am glad to observe, also, that they are going to investigate the matter of insurance charges in connection with the shipping of grain. It has been a matter of common knowledge for many months past-in fact, I doubt not that it has been commonly known for years now-that some sort of effort is being and has been made to mulct the producers of western Canada in the matter of transportation rates and insurance charges upon cargoes carried on the Great Lakes. It has always occurred to me as a peculiar thing and one which, I admit, I cannot understand, why it is that season after season, this season like the rest, there is a constant discrimination against Georgian bay ports. I find that uniformly through the past pea3on the rate per bushel on grain from Duluth on lake Superior to Buffalo varied between about two cents and, at the close of the season, five cents. But you take grain rates from Fort William to bay p.orts, competing points at both ends with American ports and you find that the rate during this season, and in prior seasons too, has varied from 3i cents to as high, I understand, as ten cents per bushel. I cannot understand the reason for this discrimination, and I hope that in this connection the inquiry by the royal commission ; will be as thorough as possible. I trust that no effort will be spared to bring to bay any j combine which may exist in regard to these matters.
I hope that the government, in their zeal to discover whether there is a combine on the lakes in the matter of transportation rates, will not fail to carry their investigation to the point where they can be assured whether or not there is any combine in connection with ocean rates; because, after all, these combines, if they do exist, are usually hydraheaded. You may cut off one head, but the others remain; and the government should see to it that the investigation shall be such that it may not be said afterwards that, while a combine has been robbed of its power in one section, nevertheless it can rise up in might in another. In connection with this inquiry I regret that the government did not long ago take some drastic action in dealing with the situation. I cannot see why the coastal laws of the country were suspended, practically at the close of navigation, when such suspension could do little good so far as grain transportation costs were concerned. The government might well have acted far more diligently in that regard.
There is another way in which the government can be of some service: I refer to an investigation of the possibilities of the westward movement of grain through the port of Vancouver. If that investigation justifies it, their support should be given in connection with the so-called western grain route. I know there are problems involved in connection with the shipping of grain from the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan westward through the port of Vancouver. Some of these problems should be mastered by this government; others should be taken up and solved by the people of Vancouver and of British Columbia generally. This is the more necessary in view of the fact, as revealed upon examination, that this westward movement of grain is becoming a far more popular movement than heretofore. I understand that the amount of grain shipped this year through this route is considerably in excess of that shipped last year, despite inadequate terminal and elevator facilities. Account must also be taken of the fact that uniformly through the past season there has been a premium on the Vancouver price over the Fort William price of grain, extending from approximately three cents to between seven and eight cents per bushel. These are matters that should be carefully investigated by the government. I see no reason why the Board_ of Grain Commissioners should not long~ago have been charged with the duty of investigating this matter with a view to ascertaining the feasibility of developing this western movement of grain. Is there anything the people of British Columbia can do to make it more feasible? That an investigation should disclose. In the years to come, in my opinion, this matter will be of increasing importance to this country, and I trust that the government will not neglect any opportunity to give, at least, what counsel and support they can to the western movement of grain.
Now, I have dealt to some extent with the matter of grain growing in western Canada. I propose to turn my attention for a moment to the cattle industry of western Canada. This industry, as everyone must realize, is one for which the province of Alberta particularly is naturally adapted. In past years it has been a very profitable and a very large industry. But unfortunately the high American tariff has excluded our cattle from the Chicago market, and the result has been a disastrous fall in prices, the sacrifice of cattle at very low rates that are utterly unprofitable and, most unfortunate of all, the sale of a large
The Address-Mr. Shaw
statement made by General Smuts at the Imperial Conference in 1921, where Canada was represented by the present right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen. I commend this statement to the consideration of the House as Canada's policy. He said:
In shaping our course for the future, we must bear in mind that the whole world position has radically altered as a result of the war. Europe is no longer what she was, and the power and the position which she once occupied in the world has been largely lost. The great empires have disappeared. Austria will never rise again. Russia and Germany will no doubt revive, but not in this generation nor in the next; and when they do, they may be very different countries in a world which may be a very different world. The position, therefore, has completely altered. The old viewpoint from which we considered Europe has completely altered. She suffers from an exhaustion, which is the most appalling fact of history; and the victorious countries of Europe are not much better off than the vanquished. No, the scene has shifted on the great stage. To my mind that is the most important fact in the world situation to-day, and the fact to which our foreign policy should have special regard.
Then, discussing the possibilities of the future, he asks the question, What will be the next chapter in human history? and says:
What will be the character of that history? Will it be along the old lines? Will it be the old spirit of national and Imperial domination which has been the undoing of Europe? Or shall we have learned our lesson ? Shall we have purged our souls in the fires through which we have passed? Will it be a future of peaceful co-operation, of friendly co-ordination of all the vast interests at stake?
In the latter part of that statement of Premier Smuts lies, I think, the course for this country to follow-a non-partisan course as between the nations, holding the balance of justice with an equal poise, seeking to extend our friendly help and co-operation to all nations in distress.
I say further that if we are obligated by any warlike commitments, we should seek release from them. We should not engage in any further war-provoking entanglements. If we do that much we shall at least have made some efforts to usher in, or perhaps to bring somewhat closer to realization, that day when-
The common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe.
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law.
Now, there is one other matter to which I wish to refer, and that is my position before this House. There has been some misunderstanding. There has been, perhaps, to some extent some slight misrepresentation. Let me say at the outset that my position before this House has not changed in the slightest. I was elected as an Independent for the Calgary West federal riding. I was supported most generously by the United Farmers of Alberta within that constituency, and supported most
generously indeed by the labour unions in that constituency. It was my duty, and it has been my effort to fulfil it, to co-operate not only with the Progressive group but with any group which was interested in the securing of democratic legislation. That is my obligation to my constituents; that is the course which I intend to pursue-that and none other. I am not fettered by any party' consideration; I am not embarrassed by any partisan affiliations; and so I say I am prepared to co-operate not only with the government, not only with my friends of the opposition, but with the Progressive group in any legislation which appears to me deserving of favourable consideration by this parliament.
I have listened with considerable interest to the belated-shall I say?-amendment proposed by the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Hoey). That amendment is worthy of some consideration. I think the challenge, however, of the country to-day to this parliament is the challenge to economy, not only in administration but also in the expenditure of government-the challenge to keep our expenditure within our income. I think the challenge to parliament to-day is to reduce and lessen the burdens of taxation which so grievously bear upon the people, and so in that spirit I desire to move an amendment to the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Springfield. The amendment which I propose reads as follows:
That the following words be added to the amendment
before the House:
That this House views with alarm the substantial increase in the national debt, and urges Your Excellency's advisers to exert every possible effort to economize in the expenditure and administration of government, and to lessen the burden of federal taxation which bears so heavily on the people of Canada.
I offer that amendment, not for the purpose of embarrassing the government, for I believe the government is under no obligation to consider it as necessarily indicating a want of confidence, but because its adoption will indicate that the challenge of the country to this parliament has been answered to some extent at least.