Mr. J. F. WHITE (London):
Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne is supposed to embody the conception of the government as
The Address-Mr. White
to the needs of the country for the coming year. The most important problem which faces the people of Canada to-day is the cost of living, a subject which is referred to in the Speech from the Throne, and referred to in a rather hopeless way. The government states that the most rigid economy that it can exercise will not suffice to solve the problem. The relief which that will afford to the people generally, who are deeply concerned about this question, is not very great, and relief in the matter of taxation is avery necessary thing in Canada at this time. I have never known a time when so much objection was voiced to the extent of thetaxation imposed upon the people. Like the hon. member who has just spoken (Mr. Manion) I have met many people on the street who have protested strongly against the taxation to which they are subjected. People have even telephoned me at my house and protested in the same way. Not only is the burden of taxation objected to by the rank and file of the people, but men who are in high positions are giving a great deal of
thought to the matter and are expressing opinions along the same line. The views ot these men of attainment who occupy commanding positions, should be deserving of attention.
Mention was made during the progress of the debate that the presidents of various banks had expressed their confidence in the future of Canada; that they were hopeful of the future. But at the same time they issued a strong warning as to the direction in which Canada was headed on account of high taxation. A great deal of attention was devoted to the subject by the president of the Bank of Commerce, Sir John Aird, in his annual address. After going into it thoroughly, he said:
Undoubtedly we shall suffer by the handicap of the higher level of income in this country as compared with the United States since the reductions recently made in that country.
Sir Herbert Holt President of the Royal Bank also had a good deal to say with regard to taxation and tariff stability. He said with regard to the income tax:
Let me emphasize here that it is not the wealthy who are the greatest sufferers from high surtaxes, but the rank and file of the people, who find it difficult to secure employment when industry is stagnating, and those who should be investing their money in new enterprises find no incentive to do so. Such a situation can only end in capital leaving Canada to find employment in the United States and elsewhere.
Mr. J. W. Hamilton, general manager of the Union Bank, said in his address:
Taxation in this country has reached the point of oppression. It has become more than a problem; it is a menace.
Mr. W. R. Allan, president of the same
Taxation in Canada requires anxious thought. Federal and municipal taxes with in some cases provincial additions have become so onerous as to stifle business and discourage effort.
Mr. Speaker, similar warnings were given in many speeches in this House last session, but in spite of that the government pursued a course which aggravated the situation. The result is that not only has the revenue declined very seriously, but the public debt has gone up, and the remedy now proposed by the government is increased production and the development of new and wider markets.
First, as to the necessity of increased production, I am in absolute agreement. It is only by increased production, by mass production, that the costs of manufacturing can be reduced.
As to wider markets, that also is very desirable. The government, however, should not forget that we have the old and reliable market, the home market right here. It is not being supplied by Canadian people, and it should have more attention. We have been abandoning policies which retained in large measure the Canadian market for the Canadian people, and substituting therefor a policy which has given a great deal of our market over to the workmen of other countries. Our Department of Immigration states that the regulations are being enforced very rigidly. No immigrant can come into this country except under agreement to take up domestic service or to work in agriculture. No shop workman, no tradesman is allowed in; he is kept out absolutely, and yet when the product of the labour of that tradesman who is refused admittance comes and knocks at the door of Canada for admittance, what does the government do? It welcomes it by lowering its tariff, and it welcomes it by its neglect to provide this country with a reasonable protection against the depreciated currency and the lower standard of living of these other countries.
The Speech refers to a reduction made in the cost of production of raw materials and the necessaries of life by two measures passed last session. One of these is the reduction in the sales tax, but inasmuch as the government in 1923 increased the sales tax by 100 per cent, and subsequently reduced it from six to five per cent, I suppose they are entitled to all the glory they can extract out of the achievement.
The Address-Mr. White
The other factor that is mentioned as having reduced the cost of production is the reduction that was made in the tariff last session. This I suppose refers principally to the changes in the tariff on agricultural implements. I propose to consider that from three angles: first, from the standpoint of the consumer, second from the standpoint of the manufacturer of implements, and third from the standpoint of the manufacturer of the materials that go into the implements.
There has been some controversy over the result of the reductions in the tariff. The right hon. leader of the opposition has maintained that the government has not redhced prices on agricultural implements; the Prime Minister claims that the prices
9 p.m. have been reduced, and quotes figures comparing the last two years only. I support the leader of the opposition in his contention that this government has not reduced the price of agricultural implements. I will go further than that and make this assertion, that on many of the different implements in use on the farm to-day the prices are higher than when this government assumed office. My authority for that statement is found in the retail price lists of implements that have been issued' from time to time from December, 1921 to December last by the International Harvester Company, copies of which I have here. The prices I am going to quote are the retail prices to the consumer f.o.b. Hamilton, London and Ottawa. The prices are given in every case as for two October payments These prices include the sales tax in every case where sales tax was applicable. The sales tax on these goods in December, 1921, when this government assumed office was three per cent; that was raised in the session of 1923 to six per
cent, and cancelled entirely in April, 1924. There were five distinct price lists issued and used since December, 1921. d'own to the present day, namely one issued December 1, 1921, and the others on February 1, 1923, November 1, 1923, April 11, 1924, at the time of the announcement of the budget last year, and the last one on December 1, 1924. I have prepared a table showing the prices charged at the various dates on eight different machines, confining myself principally to the list used by the Prime Minister on Monday of this week. I have compared' the prices on wagons also, and in fairness must say that the price of wagons is somewhat lower than in 1921, ranging from one to eight dollars less, depending upon the type of wagon. For the sake of brevity and clearness I shall only quote the prices in December, 1921, and those ruling to-day, and I would ask that the whole table be inserted in the record.
A seven-foot binder with no attachments, in 1921 cost $235; the price tc the farmer today is $237. A sales tax of 3 per cent existed in 1921, and does not exist now.
A five-foot heavy mower in 1921 cost $96 50; to-day it is the same price.
A ten-foot rake with thirty-two teeth, in 1921 cost $52; to-day $54.
A single disc drill with thirteen discs, two and three horse, in 1921 cost $147; to-day $157.
A six-foot, twelve-teeth, three horse cultivator, in 1921 cost $79; to-day, $82.
A sixteen-teeth, spring tooth harrow, with teeth one and a quarter inches wid'e, in 1921 cost $16,50; to-day $18.
A walking plough, No. 121, in 1921 cost $23.50; to-day $23.50.
A disc harrow, out-throw twelve discs, in 1921 cost $58; to-day $62.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY