over the difficulty the government finds itself in, due to the diminished revenues resulting from the trade depression which we are experiencing from one end of the country to the other. I repeat, it is a poor way to try to hide the fact that we are slipping more and more regarding the public debt.
Let me again say, and I shall continue to repeat it, I have the utmost confidence in Canada', and when I am criticizing the government it must be borne in mind that there is not much connection between the two, and after the bell rings next time there will be no connection at all. Cluttered up within Hansard of March 24 will be found all maimer of excuses and explanations by the Acting Minister of Finance as to why such-and-so is done. Why is it necessary to insert this in the budget statement?
The railway company from earnings are not yet able to meet the arrears of interest accumulated on our loans to the company. This government, following the policy of its predecessors, continues to relieve the company from the payment of interest. To do otherwise wouid require the increasing of our annual provisions in the estimates, thus adding to our debt on the one hand, and, after receiving back from the company the amount so provided in our estimates, crediting it to interest on investments account on the other hand, thus reducing our debt by the very amount by which we increased it.
Why, Mr. Speaker, ever since we took over this railway system has not this been the practice? Why draw a red herring across the trail and say: "This $131,000,000 is a bad debt, but we are so generous to the Canadian National Railways that we want to treat it in this way, because if we received the interest back we would only have to reverse the ledger entry and put it on the other side?" Does any man of intelligence in the Dominion ever expect that that interest is going to be paid back? Are we not clamouring every day for reduced freight rates? My friends from the Maritime provinces, my friends from the prairie provinces, my friends from Ontario and Quebec, each and every one of us, are looking for the day when reduced freight rates will come. Reduced freight rates will be ahead of this proposition which is suggested by the Acting Minister of Finance in his budget speech. It is not fair to the Canadian people to draw a red herring across the trail in respect to the country's accounts. It is time we tried to give them a frank, clear statement to show them exactly where we are, exactly in What direction we are going, exactly what we are doing. If the revenues are slipping, tell them so. They do not mind having the truth; they do not mind a clear statement of the facts.