Order. If the hon. gentleman refers to the question which came up this afternoon on the motion to refer the estimates of the Canadian National Railways to a special committee, the hon. gentleman objected to that motion. The hon. member for Toronto West Centre (Mr. Hocken) was in favour of the motion and made certain remarks, but there was nothing in them which I heard which could give rise to a question of privilege. I would say to the hon. gentleman that if we are to conduct the affairs of the house in a sane way, we should not prolong these rambles about remarks made by another speaker.
I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I contend that our parliamentary text books on procedure and also your rulings from the dead text books of the past, have been very largely abolished by our new status. I think it is a very proper question of privilege that I am raising. The statement has been made that I attacked the railway. What I was attacking was the method of appointing the committee.
privilege there. There would be a question of privilege if the hon. gentleman's character had been attacked, but there was nothing of the kind in the speech delivered this afternoon by the hon. member for Toronto West Centre.
I rise to a question of privilege, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member for West Elgin, speaking in this debate, said at page 960 of Hansard:
The hon. member for South Essex (Mr. Gott), stretched the point somewhat finely, but the fact remains that these two plants are being prepared for production and the company have announced that production will begin shortly.
I want it understood that if this utterance was made from this section of the house it was not made by the member for South Essex, because there is nine million dollars invested there, and the hon. member for South Essex knows as well as the residents of Windsor that they will proceed only when a duty on steel is established.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask a question, based on an article that appeared in the Toronto Daily Star of Saturday last, headed, "Movement is Reported to Have Newfoundland Enter Confederation." One paragraph reads as follows:
A delegation of Newfoundland citizens, bearing with them the tacit authority of the government to express its views, is expected to reach Ottawa shortly in order to discuss this matter.
I would like to ask the Prime Minister if there is any authority for this report, and if so, when the delegation comes, will he give it a sympathetic hearing.
DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
The house resumed from Monday, March 5, *consideration of the motion of Hon. J. A. Robb, (Minister of Finance), that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to go into committee of ways and means, the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Cahan, and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Fansher (East Lambton).
Mr. Speaker, I rise in a somewhat tense atmosphere to resume the debate on the budget. But first of all let me say that the proposed amendment of the rule limiting speeches to forty minutes
appeals very much to me. Those of us who sat in this house during the session of 1926 will, I am sure, agree that this would be a welcome change.
The budget has been termed by some a shadow budget; by others a shift budget. My sympathy immediately goes out to the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb), for whom personally we all have the greatest admiration. Consider for a moment the trouble he has had in framing this budget, for he had to try to satisfy the different viewpoints of the supporters of the government: the free-trade
section-those who have continued to sound the "death knell of protection;" the wing that calls for a tariff for revenue only, and the other section demanding adequate protection along certain lines. In his endeavour to conciliate these conflicting views he has produced a budget that in my opinion will confer no particular benefit on the Canadian people.
It is not my intention to go fully into the budget proposals, as I wish to deal with a matter that has not been taken into consideration by the government, but before doing so I purpose to devote a few minutes to the subject of tax reduction. There is no doubt that the reduction of the income tax and corporation tax has been well received by some of our people. We are all acquainted with the history of the sales tax, and it was dealt with yesterday by some hon. gentlemen. This tax was raised from three to six cents by the government when it took office. Shortly afterwards our friends opposite began to claim credit for what they termed great reductions in the sales tax; first it was reduced 165 per cent, then 20 per cent, and this year a further reduction of 25 per cent has been heralded throughout the country. But after all these so-called great reductions we find that to-day the sales tax is at 3 per cent-exactly where it stood six years ago when the Liberal party succeeded to power. I think we all agree that the sales tax bears very heavily on the great masses of the people, and if the burden of taxation is to be lightened, as the government promised some time ago, then I think this tax should be completely wiped out.
The Minister of Finance tells us that of course we must expect a continuance of certain taxes as long as we have a war debt. As to this, I agree with my friends to the left that the one tax that should be continued is the income tax. But I will go further; I say that the proceeds of this tax should be earmarked and applied to reducing the war debt. We are told by the minister that the general debt has been decreased this year by some thirty-eight million dollars. At the same time the estimated collections of income tax
The Budget-Mr. Barber
he places at fifty-five million dollars. I think it very unfair that the revenue raised through the income tax should be expended on public works and the establishing of embassies in foreign countries.
As to the reduction of the national debt, a subject that has been discussed pro and con throughout this debate, I think the fairest statement in regard to it was given by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan), whidh will be found at page 617 of Hansard:
The net debt of Canada on March 31, 1927, was $2,726,298,717, showing on the face of the accounts a reduction of $41,896,729.33 in the net debt over that of the preceding year. And Vet the national railway indebtedness to the public onlj', increased in 1927 by $46,000,000.
The reply to the claim that the government has reduced taxation is given by the Minister of Finance himself when he states that the increase in the amount of taxes collected amounts to $10,426,728 over last year, or a little over $1.10 per capita. In this connection I am reminded of the remarks of an hon. member the other day, and I think the Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) would agree that he is not a Tory. He reminded us that in 1921-22 under the Conservative administration the total taxation collected amounted to $317,000,000. The Minister of Finance estimates that for the year 1927-28, $357,000,000 will be collected. In other words, this year the government expects to collect $40,000,000 more from the people than the Conservative administration did in their last year of office.
The Minister of Finance has termed this a thrift budget. The government have been talking thrift and economy for some time, but they continue to increase expenditures each year. I would refer the house to his statement as set out at page 535 of unrevised Hansard, where under the heading of ordinary^ expenditures it will be seen that there is an increase over last year of $14,181,827, under special expenditure, an increase of $2,156,600, and under capital expenditure an increase of $1,846,308, the total under these three headings being $18,184,735-representing in the neighbourhood of two dollars increased expenditure per head of our population. The estimates for the coming year show similar increases, and during this fiscal year, 1928-29, the government will expend every day no less than $1,095,000.
I find that the tariff changes in this as in all other budgets of this government are calculated to encourage importations, curtail opportunities for employment in home industries, and lessen the importance of the home
market to Canadian producers. This continual tinkering with the tariff has done more to disorganize industry and discourage capital than has anything else. It is a policy of uncertainty. I think the time has long since come when there should be marked in red on our calendar another day, the day when the budget speech is brought down. The people of this country look forward with great anxiety to that date. I might liken it to a man up on a charge of murder. He looks forward with dreadful anticipation to the conclusion of his trial and the return of the verdict, awaiting either the passing of sentence or release. In the meantime he does not know whether he is to be discharged or sentenced to prison for life or to hang by the neck until he is dead.
There is nothing in this budget calculated to encourage our great primary industries. In this regard I was interested in the simile offered by the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail) the other day, when she compared the well being of a country to a tree, agriculture and the other primary industries forming the roots and the secondary industries the branches. If the roots are injured then of course the tree withers and dies. I fear that some of the branches of our national tree are withering to-day. For a few minutes I propose to discuss some of the branches, but first I would refer to one of the roots, the great industry of agriculture. Let us take dairying, which is one of the most important. The dairymen of this country, I want to point out, have no eight hour law; they work from early morning until late at night. Nor have they any weeks of holidays; they cannot put their cattle in cold storage and elevators and travel south; they must be on the job all the time. The total investment in this business is some $900,000,000 and it gives employment to half a million people. We have in this Dominion over three million producing dairy cows and the total dairy production amounts to $250,000,000, being greater than that of the mining industry of which we are so proud. One would naturally expect such an important industry to-receive every encouragement at the hands of the government, but the greatest blow it has been given has been the Australian treaty which was entered into by our friends opposite in 1925. We have an excellent illustration of the effect of reduced tariffs when in this instance we find that the treaty not only resulted in a lowering of the duty against Australian and New Zealand products from four cents to one cent, but also forced the Americans, in order to protect themselves, .
The Budget-Mr. Barber
to raise their tariff from eight to twelve cents, thus excluding us from their market.
Prior to this trade arrangement we exported considerable quantities of butter to the United States. In the year 1925 we exported 24,553,000 pounds, importing in that same year 193,341 pounds, leaving a net surplus for export of over 24,000,000 pounds. Since the coming into force of the treaty our exports have gradually diminished while our imports have increased. According to the statement issued by the Department of Trade and Commerce, December 31 last, we exported $1,068,610 worth of butter, chiefly on consignment to Great Britain, and imported $3,892,640 in 1927. In other words, we imported over three times as much butter as we exported. As to production, I have been unable to secure the figures for 1927 but I am advised that they are in course of preparation. I fear they will show a great decrease in production. Monthly bulletin No. 232, giving agricultural statistics, shows that we produced 272,000,000 pounds of butter in 1926 and further, as between the two years 1925 and 1926, a decrease of 5,000,000 pounds in production of daily butter and an increase in creamery butter of 7,700,000 pounds, or a total increase of 1.01 per cent. It has been argued that the price of butter retailed in Canada has been higher since the coming into effect of the treaty. This is an unfair way to look at the question; we should consider, not the retail price, but what the dairymen receive for their product in this country. In this connection I desire again to refer to this bulletin on agricultural statistics. We find that the dairymen of Canada received in the year 1925 $95,136,896 for their butter, while in 1926 they received $90,006,167; with an increased production of 1.01 per cent they received $5,130,729 less for their butter in 1926 than they did the previous year.
Under this agreement thousands of pounds of butter from New Zealand and Australia have reached the Vancouver and British Columbia markets. At the same time I feel that British Columbia has not been so hard hit as other portions of the country, particularly the prairie provinces. The dairymen of the Fraser valley market their product principally in the form of fresh milk. During the year 1927 they produced in the district 12,500,000 gallons. Of this volume 7,000,000 gallons took the form of fluid milk while 5,500,000 gallons were disposed of as products manufactured from milk, chiefly butter. The returns received from milk sold in fluid form were considerably higher than the returns received from milk sold in the form of butter, the relative returns being 24 cents per gallon and 16 cents per gallon respectively.
The great problem facing the organization of the Fraser valley to-day is the loss through surplus which must be marketed in the form of butter, cheese and other products. Under present conditions, if the dairymen of Fraser valley had to depend on butter prices for their product they would all go out of business.
A few years ago, I remember, a large quantity of Alberta butter was sold on the British Columbia markets, and I may say a very popular brand it was. Now it is replaced by New Zealand and Australian butter. No part of this country has been harder hit by this Australian treaty than the prairie provinces. The farmers of those provinces have been urged for some years to go into mixed farming and they were making rapid strides in dairying. Two years ago in the province of Saskatchewan there was more butter made every week during the winter months than was consumed. At the present time that province is producing less than 50,000 pounds per week, with a weekly consumption of 200,000 pounds. Twenty butter factories which have been in operation for years have been closed. These conditions, I believe, apply generally to Alberta as well. We find that Calgary has had to import fresh cream from Vancouver for table use. It is said that thousands of prairie farmers let their hired help go in the fall owing to the fact that they are not milking their cows. This is a serious state of affairs in this industry, and it has all been brought about by the policy of hon. gentlemen opposite.
I have here some resolutions of protest submitted to this government and as I see the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) in his seat I wish to bring them to his attention. First there is the National Dairy Council, whose views are on record. This organization met the Minister of Agriculture and other members of the government on November 29 last and presented the following resolution:
That the order in council applying schedule 2 of the Australian trade agreement to New Zealand be rescinded at once; _
That the dumping clause be immedately applied on all butter sent from Australia to Canada on consignment as well as on direct
That the Australian trade agreement be terminated as provided in the Australian Trade Agreement Act, 1925.
A similar resolution was forwarded by the British Columbia Dairymen's Association, which met in Nanaimo on February 22, and we have also received protests from a meeting of western dairymen which took place at Regina on February 10. Now I turn to the Minister of Agriculture; I say to him that the dairymen of this country want to know
The Budget-Mr. Barber
what he is going to do about this question; he can no longer turn a deaf ear to these protests. I would ask the minister if he can give us some assurance that the wishes of the dairymen will be carried out. He does not reply. I am sorry the Minister of Finance is not in his seat, because I believe he was the father of this child, and his usual comeback is, "What about paper, salmon, and other products of British Columbia?" I can only say that I do not consider even those products safe under this treaty, because it appears that under this agreement Australia has certain powers which we do not have; their preferential and intermediate tariffs are subject to change from time to time without reference to the wishes of this country. Recently the Australian government made a change with regard to the tariff on automobiles, by revising that part of the agreement dealing with those items. They increased the preferred rate and the general rate b}' 5 per cent and 7i per cent respectively, and the manager of General Motors Corporation says that any benefit they received from that treaty has been taken away.
The trouble is that when this agreement was entered into, so far as agricultural products were concerned we had nothing to trade. As you all know, under that agreement Australia was allowed a preference of 3 cents under our general tariff; if our general tariff had been raised to what it should have been and the tariff on butter increased to 8 cents or 9 cents there would have been no trouble. When the tariff was left at 4 cents, however, the 3 cent preference only allowed a protection of one cent per pound, and our markets have been flooded with Australian and New Zealand butter.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE