I have made careful inquiry and my information is that there is no discrimination so far as Protestant charitable societies are concerned. They are on exactly the same footing, as far as this measure is concerned, as any society under the aegis of the Roman Catholic church. That is to say contributions to neither one nor the other would be exempt under the terms of this act, but only contributions to the churches themselves would be exempt. I would rather withdraw this amendment than have it the occasion for any controversy as to religious discrimination. Were I of opinion that my hon. friend's statement as to discrimination was correct, I assure him I would withdraw it now. ,ij
Then I think the matter ought to be investigated before this is passed, because there is a serious question here. Anyone who knows anything of the charity work in the city of Montreal-and some years ago I had occasion to look into it very carefully-will know very well that there is a good deal of feeling in that city with regard to such matters, and I know there is a conviction that such organizations should be free to work out their own schemes. I do not want to take this occasion to go into the reports that have been given to me, reports of discrimination within the province of Quebec, and similar charges of which we often hear; we have nothing to do with that in this house, but I do not want this practice carried into the federal house. It does seem to me that it is quite possible that any donor may give to the Catholic church or to any individual Protestant church a sum of money, and receive exemption for that sum, and that the church may then use that money for whatever purpose it may wish. The church may use it for charitable purposes, for missionary activities, for the upkeep of the local church or for anything else. In the case of the Protestant communities, let me repeat that they carry on charity to a very limited extent through the local church. In recent years there has been developed this newrer type of organization through which a good deal of the social work among Protestant people is done.
Now this simply means that whereas in the Roman Catholic community donors can give to the church and the church can pass it on as it pleases-
I say to a limited extent charity is carried on by the individual local Protestant churches, but never to more than a limited extent. To a very large extent the Protestant churches have turned over a considerable amount of that type of work to bodies which do not directly come under the church. In my own city I have no quarrel with the way things are organized, for under this community fund the beneficiaries may be organizations such as the minister mentioned, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, as well as other non-denominational organizations. I would urge that if a man does not choose to belong to a particular denomination, or to any denomination, he should still be able to contribute to the needs of his fellow men without being discriminated against. The churches have a prominent place in this country, but they have no monopoly in work of this kind. I am not speaking against the churches nor am I speaking against the hospitals; they both do excellent work. Undoubtedly the hospitals should be given this exemption, but I am pleading for another type of work which has come into prominence in more recent years and which is doing ju^t as good work as any of these other institutions, and hence should be recognized.
This amendment seems to be quite clear. It states that donations to the extent of 10 per cent of the net income of the taxpayers to any church, university, college, school or hospital in Canada will be allowed as a deduction. Contribution to either of these two other bodies would not come under any of these headings.