Hon. CHARLES STEWART (West Edmonton) :
Mr. Speaker, I have been greatly interested in the debate this afternoon; it has brought out many diverse opinions. I am bound to say that with much that has been uttered by the last speaker (Mr. Geary) I agree; but when he states that a public building has no value as a coverage for the issue of currency, to some extent I must disagree with him. I cannot see any difference between the borrowing, which is the usual practice, of the money necessary to construct a public building, having the bonds mature ten, fifteen or twenty years hence and paying interest on the investment during the whole period, and the issue within reason of money for a public building that is a permanent asset, less, of course, depreciation. I can quite appreciate the fact that my hon. friend is fearful of inflation and too much, money, but in my opinion the money is not going out of Canada; this is a domestic undertaking and has nothing to do with our exchange, and during the period of the investment we may well be in the position in which we are to-day, that we still have the necessary gold coverage, or, if need be, we can reduce it to twenty-five per cent.
I am opposed to the unlimited printing of money, because this would be useless, but I am fearful of our position generally in Canada, not alone that we are debtors to the extent of $9,000,000,000, which is a colossal sum for the Canadian people to pay interest on, but that we have our own federal debt, plus our railway debt which, as was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) a few days ago when he was speaking in the house, we shall have to assume. For the life of me I cannot see that it is safe for the federal government to borrow more mone3r and pay interest on it. The worst feature of the situation is that in all probability for the next few years we shall be faced with inability to provide by way of taxation the necessary revenues to carry on our ordinary everyday expenses. We are not the only sinners in that respect. The provinces are following in our footsteps, so that we have not a pleasant financial prospect to face. If the government, as announced in the speech from the throne, intend to begin the construction of public works to relieve unemployment, then to me it seems that the safe course to pursue is to issue additional
currency to a reasonable amount for that purpose. I do not say it should be issued to an unlimited extent, but I do hope they will not go into the marts of the world and borrow more money, thus adding to the public debt of this country upon which we now have difficulty paying the interest.
I do think this will be helpful; I quite agree with other speakers that it will not meet the situation in its entirety, but I think perhaps it would help carry us over what undoubtedly is going to be another serious year so far as unemployment is concerned. For a few moments to-day I had the pleasure of talking with General McNaughton, and I was rather pleased to learn that the result of the efforts of the federal government to provide employment, not necessarily paid employment but at all events to give men who could secure no employment, food and clothing-
Subtopic: PROPOSED PROGRAM OF PUBLIC WORKS FINANCED BY DIRECT DOMINION NOTE ISSUE