I have often heard it
argued in this House that the government had reduced taxation, but until this budget was brought down there was not the slightest evidence of any attempt on their part to do anything of the kind. Rather was there an increase of taxation by such means as raising the sales tax from 3 to 5 per cent, imposing a tax on receipts, and increasing the stamp taxes on cheques, drafts and other bills of exchange. During the year 1922 this government collected from the people of Canada in taxes the sum of $320,320,945, and during the year 1926, just ended, they collected $324,860,000. During the period from 1922 to 1925, while the taxes were being increased, the government received from other sources large amounts that should have been used to reduce both our national debt and the taxation which we are paying. In 19122 the government received from the Imperial government, as Canada's share of payments made by Germany for the cost of the army of occupation, the sum of $6,314,500, and in the same year the Imperial government reduced its indebtedness to Canada by $18,694,730. In the year 1923 the government received from the Imperial government, in settlement of exchange rates on payments from July 1920 to August 1921, the sum of $8,193,333, and in the same year the Imperial government reduced its indebtedness by $56,226198. In 1924 this government received from the Imperial government, in settlement of exchange re the Minister of Shipping, $632,500, and in the same year the Imperial government reduced its indebtedness to Canada by $66,469,227. I am not familiar enough with the system of bookkeeping in vogue with this government to know whether these amounts which were received from the Imperial government were taken into consideration in connection with the national debt; I do not know how they were handled. I do know, however, that the government received in cash from profits in exchange and from other sources, the sum of $15,140,333, and during the period 1922-24 the Imperial government reduced its indebtedness to this country to the extent of $141,390,156. Taking only the rate of interest paid on that amount, at 5 per cent, it would come to $7,069,507 which, together with the amount received from profits on exchange of $15,000,000 odd, would make a total of $22,209,841. I say, therefore, that this government during those
The Budget-Mr. Murphy
Further on in t!he same speech the Prime Minister is reported as saying:
We do not want to work injury to any industry. We want to help as far as possible all industries. We hope to make suoh readjustments of the tariff as will develop the industrial life of our country from one end of the country to the other.
He went on to elaborate in that speech how the tariff board he proposed to inaugurate would operate, In the Speech from the Throne we had it again promised that there would be no tinkering with the tariff, that there would be no reductions or increases in the tariff until after investigation had been made by the tariff board. This is the promise contained in the Speech:
They believe that dn ithe interest of industrial development every effort should be made to eliminate the element of uncertainty with respect to tariff changes; that changes in the tariff should be made only after the fullest examination of their bearing upon both primary and manufacturing industries and that representations requesting increase or decrease of duties should be made the subject of the most careful investigation and report by a body possessing the necessary' qualifications to advise the ministry with respect thereto.
In view of these explicit promises made by the Prime Minister during the election campaign and contained in the Speech from the Throne, and in view of the fact that the tariff board was appointed eight days prior to the presentation of the 'budget, were not all industries in this country justified in believing that no changes would be made in the customs tariff until after full investigation? No governmental supporter has yet sought to justify the action of the government in breaking its pledged word; we have had many speeches by Liberal and Progressive members, yet not one speaker has attempted to justify the stand taken by the government. Not even the chief apologists for the administration-[DOT] and I refer to the Progressive members to my left-have sought to do so, and previously during this session whenever the government was in difficulty we could always rely upon them to give their aid immediately.
A delegation came to Ottawa from the city of Oshawa. shortly after the budget had been brought down, asking that the duties on automobiles be not reduced but restored tc the old scale. The Prime Minister told the delegation that parliament would decide on the matter. That sounds very plausible, but while we are asked by the government to decide this matter, they have not submitted any facts or figures, without which we cannot reach an intelligent conclusion. Since parliament is to adjudicate on this matter the government should lay on the table all the data they have, including the reports and
expert advice the Prime Minister stated they had received. That has not been done, for the simple reason that this government wished to make a spectacular move which would gain for them a cheap popularity.
The arguments advanced by those supporting the reduction in automobile duties is that the prices charged by the makers of Canadian cars have been too high, notably in the case of the Ford car. The duty on this class of car has been reduced from 35 per cent to 20 per cent, with a corresponding reduction in price of from $15 to $45. If a reduction in price were the only consideration, the result could have been more easily attained and a much greater reduction made by simply removing the sales and excise taxes. Then an investigation could have been held by the tariff board to determine whether or not the manufacturers were using the protection accorded them to exploit the people. However, if those desiring cheaper cars do not agree with that argument and think the tariff has everything to do with the price, I would ask them to be logical. Hon. members to my left and from Saskatchewan argue that they want cars, notably the humble Ford, at the very lowest price possible. They have argued at great length that the 35 per cent duty has been simply added to the price of the car. If that is the case-which it is not, but which we will assume for the purposes of argument -if the price is the only consideration, the duty should be removed altogether, and not merely reduced. If these champions of the government, the Progressive group and the members from Saskatchewan, adhered to their expressed principles they would have forced this government to entirely remove the duty on cars. They had it in their power; this government could not have refused and continued in office, and we all know how tenaciously they cling to office. During the last ten years I have heard from many public platforms and read in many papers and pamphlets the attitude of the Progressive party on the tariff. According to their expressed beliefs the tariff policy of the country has been and is absolutely wrong and indefensible, and when opportunity offered they intended to exterminate it, root and branch. The opportunity arrived during this session; the Progressive party had it in their power to challenge the protective tariff; had they so desired they could have made the automobile duties the issue, and insisted upon their removal. The government would have had to capitulate or appeal to the people, then the issue would have been clearly joined and the people would have had an oppor-
The Budget-Mr. Murphy
tunity to pronounce their verdict as to whether this country should have a free trade or a protective policy. I was more than astonished when I heard the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) enunciate the new policy of the Progressive party, which I find at page 2618 of Hansard for this year:
We have stated our 'position in relation to the tariff and perhaps I may state it again, although not definitely. I am not going to say just how low I want the tariff, but I want a tariff low enough at all times to permit of outside competition. Such a tariff is the only safeguard which the consumers will ever have: there must be outside competition with home industries. And that is about as definite as I will be at the present moment on the tariff. Is there anything selfish in that? It is a legitimate policy and one which we are prepared to stand by. We have nailed our colours to the mast so far as the tariff is concerned and I can see nothing blameworthy in the position we take.
That policy, Mr. Speaker, is but the palest imitation of the free trade argument thundered forth from many Progressive platforms. That does not go even so far as a tariff for revenue only. The hon. member states that they have nailed their colours to the mast; I would like to say that they have changed their colours, and instead of the red flag of a fiscal revolution they have hoisted the white flag of abject surrender. Then the hon. member for Brandon in April of this year addressed the Canadian Club of Toronto, and in the Toronto Star of April 12 is reported as having said during the course of an interview :
The present Liberal government at Ottawa, in the opinion of the Progressive leader, will last this session without any difficulty. "It may last its full term," he said. "I suppose it depends on my crowd."
"After all," said Mr. Forke, "Progressives are simply Liberals in action. I believe Mr. King is a Liberal. When I say that, I mean a real Liberal."
And further on:
Mr. Forke denied the stories about wielding the big stick over Mr. King. "There's nothing in it," he said. "I think we're learning by bitter experience that Progressives can't be as independent as we should like to be.
Subtopic: THE BUDGET