March 19, 1929


Motion agreed to. Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Robb thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 82 for granting to His Majesty a certain sum of money for the public service of the financial year ending March 31, 1930.


THE GOLD STANDARD

UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. H. E. SPENCER (Battle River):

May I ask the Minister of Finance whether Canada is on a free gold market?

Hon. J. A. ROBB (Minister of Finance) [DOT] We are on a gold basis.

Topic:   THE GOLD STANDARD
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THE BUDGET

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE


The house resumed from Monday, March 18, 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 Hon. Hugh Guthrie, and the proposed amendment to the amendment of Mr. Spencer. The Budget-Mr. Stevens


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

(Mr. Glen) and others of their associates who sit in support of the ministers, giving loyal and consistent support to the government, although those ministers hold views on economic subjects entirely different from the views held by the hon. members. Then there is the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Forke), for example, sitting in the same seat with the Solicitor General (Mr. Cannon). Can one imagine two individuals with more divergent economic outlooks? Yet they are sitting in the cabinet together, and what is the situation? I presume that the gentle dropping of words of political advice, political wisdom and political experience by the Solicitor General into the ear of the Minister of Immigration has gradually worn away his resistance and his conscience, like the dropping of water upon the hardest stone, so that now he is able to look with equanimity upon a complete violation of his economic views. That was what I meant a moment ago when I said there is a possibility of governments in Canada seeking to hold power by placating groups here and there, but the question I ask is whether such a process and such a method is in the best interests of the country as a whole.

Now, Mr. Speaker, for a moment or two I wish to discuss two of what I think are the major problems facing this country, and the first is the problem of population which is * challenging if it is not actually defying this government, and I go further and say it is challenging this parliament. This persistent shrinkage of our population is appalling; I repeat that the constant shrinking of the population of Canada is a Challenge to this parliament. From 1921 to 1928 we lost, in numbers, all the immigrants who came to Canada and in addition 240,000 of our native bom. I have the figures before me, and if necessary I can take them back to 1901. For the comfort of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston), who twitted my colleague a day or so ago because he selected trade figures which were peculiar to this administration, although after all the government of this country is across the way and it is our duty to present to parliament the conditions as they exist at present, I want to say that I am not denying that this problem of population is not peculiar to this government, but I am able to say from these figures that this problem has been aggravated during the time this government has been in office. At this time I want to bring forward this problem as a challenge to parliament and to the government as the leaders of parliament, those who have the responsibility of administration

and who must take cognizance of the problem so presented.

What are the figures? In 1921 the census showed a population of 8,788,000; from 1921 to 1928, we 'had 962,000 immigrants come to Canada; in that same period the births numbered 1,939,000, making a total of 11,689,000. If we deduct from that figure the deaths, which numbered 824,000, we have left

10,865,000 people. If the immigration policy of this country had been wise and successful we should have in Canada to-day, including our natural increase, 10,855,000 souls, but what is our poulation according to the Bureau of Statistics? Our actual population is 9,656,000, and if we deduct that from the figure I gave a moment ago we have an actual shrinkage of 1,200,000 people in the last six or seven years. This is not a question of juggling figures; it is a cold fact confronting this country.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

No.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I am also glad to see the Minister of Railways in his sent, at least partially recovered from his illness; he shakes his head and says no. That is a habit of his. Does he question my figures?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Certainly.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Then I can only refer the minister to the Department of Trade and Commerce, from which I obtained every one of the figures I gave. If the only answer to the presentation of a problem is to simply say that the figures are wrong, and if one takes the precaution of securing bis figures from the Bureau of Statistics and then checking and cross checking them, what more can a man do?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I just want to say that for one comparison my hon. friend is using a definite figure from the census of 1921, and in the other case he is using what is admittedly and what is stated by the department to be an estimate.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Quite so, but will the minister say that the Bureau of Statistics are out 1,200,000 in their estimates? I will admit that the estimate is not exact; I queried that very point myself and they told me this was their very best estimate, based upon the quinquennial census of the prairies in addition to the information which comes to them from their usual sources throughout the country.

However, the minister is taking this in the wrong spirit. Let me put the problem to the house again. These figures, which are issued) by the government, show a shrinkage

The Budget-Mr. Stevens

in population of 1,200,000 people; our total immigration was less than 1,000,000, so we have a shrinkage of 240,000 of our natural born, and that is the problem I put to this parliament. The government can wash its hands of the problem if it so desires, but I invite parliament itself to consider what I believe to be the chief problem facing the country to-day; that is, this abnormal shrinkage in population.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I do not wish to interrupt my hon. friend, because I know his time is short, but has not that same problem faced the country since 1830?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I have already stated, and I want to make it quite clear, that this is not a situation peculiar to the tenure of this government, but it seems to have been aggravated and it seems to be increasing. This situation seems to be aggravated; for instance, the figures for 1901-that is the earliest I could obtain-show a shrinkage of 2,461,000, whereas immigration amounted to 2,691,000. There was a slight gain made by the immigration there, but for the last eight years we find that we have had not only a complete loss of our immigration, but 240,000 in addition. These figures are alarming and they challenge the attention of parliament; some consideration should be given to them. Governmental indifference is in a measure responsible for this situation. There has been a lack of appreciation of the problem and a refusal to admit the existence of difficulties.

When the Minister of Trade and Commerce spoke on the budget the other day-evidently put up by the government to be one of those to reply to the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie)-he had something to say on this subject as it related to the farming industry. The attention of the government had been called to the fact that there had been a serious drop in farming production and in the activities of agriculturists. Indubitable evidence was brought forward, and the minister in replying to that evidence said:

I contend, Mr. Speaker, that there is absolutely no loss to the dairying industry because our farmers are milk producers in other forms.

If the dairying industry has gone into otner forms of production, why cannot that be done out of an increased production of milk? With complete complacency the minister says: There is nothing wrong with the dairying industry; it is true they have not made as much butter, but they made more condensed and powdered milk. But the answer to that is this: No country in the world should be going forward with greater strides than

Canada, but the minister is satisfied if he can discover that we are merely marking time. It is a startling situation when we realize that the production of the dairying industry fell off 500,000,000 pounds of milk. We should have advanced more than 500,000,000 pounds of milk. It is a serious thing for Canada when we realize that the dairy herds have decreased by 101,000 animals, while there has been an increase in the herds of New Zealand of 57,000. This problem challenges the attention of the government and it cannot stand idle unless it is going to be false to its simplest duties.

We have heard from hon. members opposite about the prosperous condition of this country. I am not going to suggest that there is not a large measure of prosperity in Canada, but I would invite the house to consider the fact that a large measure of the prosperity is merely a reflection of the profits made by Canadians in stock operations on the New York stock exchange. I am unable to give the exact figures in this regard because I found they were not available from the records of the Federal Reserve bank. I am not reflecting on those who did succeed in their operations, I say, "God bless them," but we must not overlook the languishing condition of a basic industry of this country. When we consider how the production has fallen off there is very little comfort in the fact that certain persons and groups have made money on the New York stock exchange.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Some of them suffered losses.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I do not play the market myself, but the evidence on the financial pages of every newspaper in the country would go to show that the losses during the past few years have been very slight as compared with the so-called winnings, if one can use the gambling term.

I would also direct the attention of the government to the question of trade. When the Minister of Finance was presenting his budget the other day, he used these words:

It is gratifying to note the steady development of inter-empire trade.

If the minister has an opportunity at some future time I trust he will give us an explanation of these words in the light of the facts which I shall present. The minister continued :

Canada, the pioneer of the British preference, looks on empire trade as the keystone of its external trade policy-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

10S2

The Budget-Mr. Stevens

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Some hon. members are

saying "Hear, bear", but I want them to keep this in mind. To continue:

-and desires in every way to foster closer trading relations throughout the British commonwealth of nations.

Are those words sincere? Does the minister really mean what he said? They were given as the views of the government, and I recognize the language of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) in some of the paragraphs. If they are sincere they should show a lower average duty on imports from the United Kingdom; they should show a larger proportion of free goods from England than previously; and they should show an increasing ratio of trade expansion. I will submit some figures which will show how the key-stone works. I am afraid it will be seen that the key-stone is wobbling in its place.

The figures of the Department of Trade and Commerce show that the average duty on imports from the United Kingdom for the six years 1922 to 1927 was 19-1 per cent. The average duty for imports from the United States for the same period was 13'3 per cent. The average duty on imports from all countries was 15-7 per cent. These figures will be found on page 500 of the Canada Year Book if anyone should desire to check them. The average duty on imports from the United Kingdom was 6 per cent higher than the average duty on imports from the United States, and four per cent higher than the average duty on imports from all countries. It may be argued: What is the use of quoting the

average percentages of duty? If there is a lowering of the duty rate, it is true there may be an increase in revenue but there should be a lowering in the percentage of duty as applied to imports. What are the facts? In order to be perfectly fair in this matter I will give the figures from confederation down to the present time. These are the figures:

Imports from United Kingdom

Dutiable goods $3,400,000,000

Free goods 993,000,000

Average rate of duty, 20 per cent.

In other words during all that period 22i per cent of the goods that came in from the United Kingdom were on the free list. I give the same figures for the United States:

Imports from

United States

Dutiable goods $7,500,000,000

Free goods 5,700,000,000

Average rate of duty, 13.2 per cent.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Over what period?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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March 19, 1929