April 19, 1932

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


The house resumed consideration of the motion of Hon. E. N. Rhodes (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. Ralston, and the proposed amendment to the amendment of Mr. Gardiner.


LIB

Elie-Oscar Bertrand

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, I shall continue the comparison which I was making previous to the house rising at 6 o'clock. In 1914, the Canadian farmer could purchase a six-foot mower for $43.50; in 1930, $96.50; a six-foot binder cost in 1914, $102; in 1930, 8225.50; a six-foot hay loader, in 1914, sold for $60; in 1930, S122; a fifteen-disc sower, in 1914, cost $69; in 1930, $166. This is, therefore, an increase of 125 to 150 per cent between 1914 and 1930, on implements which are needed on the farm.

It is very difficult, under such circumstances, for the Canadian farmer to earn a livelihood, should conditions not improve, the farmer will be bankrupt; we wonder whether the government will come to the rescue.

The time, perhaps, is well chosen to offer a few suggestions, since our opponents contend that we only offer criticisms, which can have no good results. I am glad to point out to the house that I made very practical suggestions at the session of 1930; suggestions covering eight different features of the question and which had been studied by the Ontario Farm Association and accepted by a number of farm associations. I shall again suggest them to the house since they are still of actuality and should be taken under consideration by the government in the in-

The Budget-Mr. Bertrand

terests of the farming class, in order to assist them in their distress.

I may quote a paragraph from the Department of Agriculture, to be found in the Economic Annalist of January, 1932, issued under the direction of the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. AV'eir), and showing, in the following terms the failure of the activities of his department:

We are thus faced with an economic situation in which probably about one-third of our population find that for every dollar of income which they received in 1929 from produce sold they are now getting only 58 cents, and that when they in turn enter the market as purchasers, the goods for which they paid $1 in

1929, far from being offered them at a price commensurate with their 58 per cent ability to pay, are selling at 90 cents. The result is that the farmer purchaser either declines to buy at all or buys less than two-thirds of his requirements. The retarding effect of this lowered purchasing power on general business is already too familiar to require further amplification.

In the foregoing you may see, condensed in few lines, what the conditions are at the present time in so far as the farmers are concerned. The most startling feature of it all is that such conditions are noted by the hon. Minister of Agriculture himself, for the statement I have just read is published under his authority in the January issue of a pam-plet entitled The Economic Annalist. Such a statement is indeed quite astonishing since it points out the inability of that department to give assistance to the farming community at the present time.

The present level of prices for farm products, when compared with that of the year 1914, may be seen in the following trade index numbers: In 1914, 100.0; in 1929, 104.0; in

1930, 61.8, and in 1931, 53.0. This means that, at the present time, the farmer only receives 53 cents instead of the dollar he got for the same products in 1914. Therefore the conditions are worse that in 1914, and once more, we urge the government to come to the assistance of the Canadian farmers.

Our people, and particularly the farmers in Canada, are overburdened with debts and taxes of all kinds. A comparison between our public debt and our exporting trade shows how difficult it is for us to cope with the supreme folly of a Canada First policy, because of the tendency of high protection to restrain trade through higher rates of duty. A nation, as well as an individual farmer, gets into debt when the expenditures exceed the receipts, and debts thus incurred can only be paid through the sale of their products, the value of services rendered and of their

trade. A farmer who should attempt to settle his own accounts with the bank in trading his butter for eggs would obtain no practical results; the same may be said of a nation that would attempt to pay its own foreign debts through the exchange of wheat from a certain section of the country for other commodities of the same country; such a method of paying national or commercial debts, is a sheer impossibility.

Where is Canada being led to by that policy of trade restraint with its consequent high tariff that prevents the marketing of our production? A policy of that kind is bound to lead us to almost complete disaster.

A few days ago I came upon a most interesting report in connection with the income tax. In 1927, there were 594 individuals whose income exceeded $50,000; in 1930 the number increased to 603; the number of incomes of between $25,000 and $30,000, which was of 403 in 1927, has grown to 674 in 1930; for the incomes of $35,000 to $50,000, the number which was 574 in 1927, had increased to 1,106 for the year 1930. These figures show that the big interests are enjoying constantly increasing incomes while the remainder of the people are suffering from the depression; it shows also that a protection policy has enabled that particular class of people to earn more money, to add to their incomes, at a time when the mass of the community, the farmers and the workers are in dire need and can not secure employment to earn their living; it means that, while the unemployed and the farmers are crushed under the weight of depression, a certain class of taxpayers are profiting thereby; it shows that our national wealth is far from being properly distributed among the various classes of our population.

Before concluding, I may say that the government might very well look into the real situation in every class of the community; ascertain as to where is centered the wealth which our national resources have enabled these people to accumulate; find out in whose hands such private fortunes are now being held and to levy on same, in order to try and help our population to weather the present crisis and to bring order out of chaos.

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Hear,

hear.

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

Elie-Oscar Bertrand

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Translation):

As a result of the decrease in the buying power, unemployment has increased, and so have the hardships and sufferings of the people.

The Budget-Mr. Sauve

In the main, what are we to expect from the budget proposals? We are offered an increase in taxation to the extent of 155,000,000, and are led to anticipate a surplus of $4,300,000 at the end of the year. Such a statement is likely to create a false impression. No provision is made in the budget for any extraordinary expenditures which the government may be called upon to make; no provision for the relief of unemployment for which some 70 millions have been absorbed since 1930; no bonus for the western wheat, which has cost 11 millions this year; nothing in connection with the Canadian National the deficit of which reached 110 millions last year. Who is in a position to say that we shall not be called again, this year, to provide work or food for the unemployed? Who can say that the railways shall not require further assistance this year?

It is recognized by everybody that the government should, without any further delay, assist the farming class, and in concluding my remarks, I earnestly urge consideration for that particular class, whose welfare, may I say again, is essential to the economical reconstruction of our country, and it is the duty of the government to help agriculture, above all else, in order to preserve in its entirety the economic and financial structure of the country.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ARTHUR SAUVE (Postmaster General (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, if I feel

bound to add a few words to this debate, it is not because my remarks may be necessary for the vindication of the government, but merely because I wish to correct certain false representations made in connection with the present economic conditions and the policy of the government, as well as to reply to attacks launched in this house in terms both abusive and regrettable. I shall not use the same tone of language but the same language. I wish to apologize to the majority in this house if I do not express myself in a language with which they are more familiar.

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

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

There

is no apology to offer; we are entitled to speak French in this house.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

It is also

a matter of courtesy.

In the course of my twenty-five years of political life, I never once thought that abuse and excess of language could be seemly in a man of education or add anything worth while to the standing of a parliamentary debater indulging in the same against an opponent.

Before proceeding with my remarks, I should like to say to my hon. friend the member

for Prescott (Mr. Bertrand) that my criticism is not levelled at him, for I congratulate him on the high plane of his speech as well as on the great effort he displayed in order to find fault with the government.

May I also extend my congratulations to my genial colleague whose first speech as Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) was such a success.

I must at the same time congratulate my hon. friends from Shefford (Mr. Tetreault), from Kent (N.B.) (Mr. Arsenault), from Pontiac (Mr. Belec), and from Champlain (Mr. Baribeau), from St. Ann (Mr. Sullivan), who, in their maiden speeches, have made a most interesting statement of the facts, thus showing their high sense of duty.

Two years will soon have elapsed since the leader of the Conservative party was elected and authorized to form a government empowered to apply their policy during the five-year term of the new parliament. That policy, which is one of adequate protection, he has been preaching for more than half a century. More than at any other time previously, that policy is called for, since all the other nations in the world have also made it their own in order to safeguard their interests. In Canada, when the Liberal party was in power, they were forced to submit to that same policy, although they disliked it and attempted to cause it to foe scorned. Their lack of sincerity in connection with tariff matters impeded our economic education and gave rise to hurtful prejudices. Tariff protection should not foe considered as an ideal step towards the fraternity of the human race, but as an economic necessity and as a means of achieving national unity. International fraternity must not be carried out to a point where it may destroy patriotism or compel a nation to weaken itself, to ruin itself in order to be on good terms with its neighbours. Did the government do its best to respect and fulfil the program it submitted to the people in 1930? That is the pertinent question which must be answered by every good Canadian. I think that every honest citizen well informed on our economic and political situation will answer in the affirmative.

The Bennett government came into power at a time when the depression was at its climax. Depression prevailed in this country as well as in other lands. It is a condition both domestic and external. As the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) rightly pointed out, we are now paying for our extravagance, our excesses of the past, and because we waited too long to open our eyes to facts, to reason

The Budget-Mr. Sauve

and justice, because we have, for too long a time, fostered a delusive speculation, because we have denied the existence of a crisis and concealed its causes, we are paying the price now. As far as I am concerned, I have no cause to be ashamed of the policy I favoured in the past, for I am of those who, since the world war, have foreseen the impending depression, denounced those responsible for it, and insisted upon more vision in the government of the people, more caution in legislation and a greater rational economy in the management of various public affairs.

Unpleasant as it may be for me to be the butt of rather abusive attacks, I see in them a redeeming feature because, in their attempt to reach me, my opponents are compelled to ascribe to me words that I have never uttered and promises that I have never made.

The government are doing their utmost to follow their policy and to secure good results from its application in spite of the difficulties arising from the blunders of the past, the poor crops in western Canada, the speculation in wheat and the depression obtaining in other countries with which business could be transacted in normal times, difficulties considerably aggravated owing to present conditions.

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): A futile

attempt.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

The government can not be held responsible for the present world-wide depression.

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): They made promises.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

The government has decreased our imports to a lower level than our exports. Our people now consume a much larger proportion of Canadian products, these products selling at moderate prices.

Mr.POULIOT (Translation): Shame,shame.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

The ramblings

of the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) do not anger me. Although the producers may be now selling some of their commodities at a loss, one must bear in mind that we are now going through a process of reorganization, of readjustment. Our methods of production shall undergo a change for the benefit of both the producer and the consumer. If the prices of some farm products are too low, the fault does not lie with the government, but it is due to the depression now prevailing in every country. According to my hon. friend from Prescott, it is appalling to note to what extent the government is to be blamed for allowing such conditions to endure.

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

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

As you were saying three years ago.

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

Joseph-Ernest-Henri LaRue

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LARUE (Translation):

You said so before.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

I am fond of

any echo from my hon. friend from Belie-chasse (Mr. Boulanger), but I would rather listen to his speech after mine.

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

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

You shall hear it.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

What country

could, at the present time, offer to us a better market, if my hon. friends were in power? What country, were they in office, would offer them higher prices for our farm products and manufactured goods? Can you name a country where, at this moment, the depression is not more keenly felt than in Canada?

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Hear, hear.

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

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

That statement is not on all fours with your pledges.

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

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

You have already made promises yourselves. Answer the minister's questions.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

I shall reply

to my genial friend from Saint-Denis (Mr. Denis), who, I must give him credit for it, always pays particular attention to me.

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

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

That will take some time.

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

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Yes, to answer my questions. Nobody foresaw in 1930 that the crisis would last as long or that such great depression would be world-wide. Where is there a country whose products fetch a higher price than ours? There is not one. And, that is why my opponents do not answer my question. We are told that in the last couple of years, although many new industries have been established in this country, several old ones have closed their doors. That may be, but it is due to the inflation of the war period. In certain lines, there are too many factories. For instance, I ask my hon. friend for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) who is a good Quebecker, whether there are not too many shoe factories in our province?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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April 19, 1932