Mr. J. H. MYERS (Queens):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to say a few words on the budget I wish first to congratulate the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) on what I consider was the clearest and most complete statement of the business of the country that Canada has heard for many a day. I wish also to congratulate the Prime Minister of Canada and
The Budget-Mr. Myers
the present government for having so conducted the affairs of Canada during the five difficult years through which we have just passed as to make the delivery of such a budget possible.
I listened with my usual interest to the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) who always acts as the financial critic for our friends on the other side. I have always admired the cleverness of an orator and, may I say that on former occasions the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth has excelled himself as a financial critic. To-day however I felt sorry for him, because at the beginning of his remarks he was attempting to criticize the budget of a government whose actions have met with the approval of the Canadian people. Throughout his observations the hon. member laboured very hard to make the best of a very bad cause, and had it not been for the fact that he is a skilful lawyer and has an exceptional gift of oratory, I do not believe he would have succeeded. Listening to him this afternoon I concluded he was a much better lawyer than politician and a much better politician than Canadian citizen, or he would never have attempted to criticize the budget presented by the Minister of Finance.
Canada has come through four or five very difficult years; these have been trying times not only in our history but in the history of the whole world. It is pleasing to note that notwithstanding the fact the government faced an almost impossible situation when it came into office, both as to finances and as to trade, we now have succeeded on ordinary account to the extent of having a substantial surplus to our credit. It is pleasing also to note that the Minister of Finance has budgeted for a surplus approximating about $21,-
000.000 for the coming year.
Unfortunately problems over which this government or the governments of any country have little or no control must enter into the picture. In Canada we are faced with a railway problem and must decide what we will do with it. It is not necessary nor is it my intention to follow the many figures quoted by the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth, -but in passing I should like to say that all hon. members are interested in the Canadian National Railways. We wish all our railways well, and it should be the aim and object of every true Canadian citizen to try in every way to promote the interests of those railways. Especially should this be true so far as the Canadian National is concerned, because the Canadian -people have a direct interest in that system. I believe the railway management as at present constituted
is doing its very best under difficult circumstances. I would go further and state that railway employees throughout the dominion are loyal to the railway system, whether they be connected with the Canadian Pacific Railway or the Canadian National Railways. They are endeavouring to the best of their ability to further the interests of the roads with which they are connected.
We need not look very far to encounter some of the difficulties. Hon. members opposite will say that the high tariff policy of the Conservative party has clogged channels of trade, that we have done this, that and the other thing, and that we have not acted in the interest of the railways. One need only walk down the streets of this city of Ottawa to observe one factor which has had an adverse effect on the development of our railways. The condition, which I shall describe in a moment, is common to every country and at present I can see no way of getting rid of it. As a matter of fact I do not believe the people of Canada would want to get rid of it. I refer to the motor trucks and the large transportation outfits we see in our cities and on our highways. Only to-day I saw on Bank street the largest transport I have ever seen. It had come to Ottawa from the city of Montreal, and is operating in competition with the railways in which we have an interest. I do not know what can be done about it. The figures given by the Minister of Finance would lead us to believe that trade is recovering quickly, and it would seem to me that in years to come the railways may make a -better showing than they are now making. Yet I am not prepared to say, in view of what may be seen abroad in the land to-day, that -our railways will ever be able to make revenues and expenditures balance. We must make up our minds to assist the railway by subsidies, by payment of their deficits or by whatever method may be found necessary.
One fact is certain, namely that we cannot do without railway facilities. The great distances to be overcome, the heavy commodities to be transported, such as wheat from western Canada, coal from the maritimes and Alberta, lumber and farm products from other sections of the country which can be moved only -by railway, lead us to believe that railways are a necessity, and that being so we should do our very best to assist them in every possible way.
Much has been said about the unemployed and unemployment relief. I believe the government has dealt with those problems most generously. All h-on. members regret that a
The Budget-Mr. Myers
portion of our citizens is unemployed, and regret further the fact that many of our people have found it necessary to accept relief. Possibly more are depending on relief than should be depending upon it. However, be that as it may, we must face the problem of unemployment and deal with it as best we can. I repeat that this government has been most generous in the way it has dealt with relief, with the unemployment question and in its treatment of the different provinces and municipalities. 1 noticed in the press of this morning that about eighty mayors of different cities throughout Canada met yesterday in Montreal. There is no reason why mayors of cities should not meet, but we know that sometimes at their meetings they make strange statements and pass stranger resolutions. So far as unemployment relief is concerned they were of the opinion that all they had to do was to pass the responsibility over to the dominion government. They would let the dominion government put up the money and foot the bills of the cities, the municipalities and the provinces. While reading the newspaper article and again while the hon. member for Shefburne-Yarmouth was speaking so eloquently and stating his belief that after the next election the Liberal party would be returned to power, I thought it strange in view of the assurance which he seemed able to give the house that the mayors who met in Montreal yesterday had not postponed their meeting about six months until the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King), so famous for his generosity as expressed in 1929, came back into power. Then all they would have to do would be to come to him and he would hand out five cent pieces for the whole Dominion of Canada.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OP THE MINISTER OP FINANCE