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,
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE