March 11, 1937

LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Does the hon. member know that if seditious literature is distributed or propagated anywhere, it is for the provincial authorities to put the law in motion? There is a law against it.

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

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I understand that is the constituency represented by the Attorney General for Quebec.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Exactly.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Wilfrid Gariépy

Liberal

Mr. GARIEPY:

The point I make is that the two powers should work in conjunction. I do not think in a matter of such importance the ball should be thrown from one to the other. I am not criticizing or complaining, but I do say we should attend to this thing before it has gone too far. If it is a matter for direct provincial intervention, then no doubt something should be done from that end. At the same time I submit the federal government should follow what is taking place, and see to it that proper remedies are applied.

Again referring to answers to questions, may I say that on three occasions I have asked the names of employees engaged in government work on the St. Lawrence river, a matter under the control of the Minister

The Budget-Mr. Gariepy

of Transport (Mr. Howe), who is not now in his seat, but to this date I have not received the information. Last session the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska (Mr. Dubois) sponsored a resolution requesting that the government consider the advisability of appointing experts to look into the building of a bridge over the St. Lawrence river at a point opposite Three Rivers. Later the same hon. member again asked what had been done and the answer from the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Cardin) was nothing-no word of explanation, and no report of any kind. I say, Mr. Speaker, that the instructions of the house are not being followed, and that an answer of that kind is not satisfactory. In the province of Quebec we have unemployment, just as in other parts of Canada, no more and no less. I am not blaming the government for not doing more than it has done, but at the same time conditions in my section of the country warrant taking all means at our disposal to improve labour conditions. If construction of this bridge I mentioned a moment ago were thought advisable, it would certainly afford work to many people. It would seem that money can be found to finance the construction. If hon. members look at the map they will find that the bridge would be in the very centre of the province and would serve almost a million people. It would be the last link for a direct connection between the north shore of the St. Lawrence and the United States boundary.

This is work which would not prove very costly. Votes have been passed for armaments and for other things. The province of Quebec has joined with other provinces in contributing to direct relief, and it seems to me that some of the money might have been used in Quebec for useful projects such as the one I have mentioned.

A moment ago I mentioned that we are a confederation of component parts which decided to unite; but still retaining their original identity. Prior to 1867 Lower Canada was a self-governing body, so far as it could then exist. It did not give away any of its essential powers when it entered confederation. The majority of the population of the province of Quebec are French-speaking, but this is not the essential point in my argument. If complaints are made by my province, they should be considered in the same way that complaints received from Upper Canada were considered in the days of William Lyon Mackenzie, and from Nova Scotia in the days of Joseph Howe.

I come now to a delicate matter, but one to which serious consideration should be given.

I think we have reached a point where it must be said that the civil service commission is nothing less than a menace to this country. I could give many instances which have occurred throughout the whole province of Quebec, but I shall illustrate what I have in mind by referring to certain incidents in the city of Three Rivers.

A year ago the Wabasso Cotton Company had a strike, and a delegation of its employees was sent to meet the Department of Labour at Ottawa. There were eight French-speaking employees who met Mr. Dickson, the deputy minister of Labour, and certain members of his staff. I was along also, and for hours the discussion was carried on through myself as interpreter. There was no French-speaking employee available in the department to listen to the views of these employees.

In the city of Three Rivers the mounted police is headed by Mr. Chamberlain, an English-speaking official. I have nothing to say against his ability, but he is being retained there in spite of protests. These protests are not being made because of his inability to perform his duties, but because Three Rivers is more French than any other city not only in Quebec or in Canada but in the whole world.

I could go on and give many other instances. Last summer a wharf was being built opposite my city. An engineer from the Department of Transport would come down for a few days each week to inspect the work. This gentleman was very able, but he could not speak one word of French, yet all those with whom he had to deal were Frenchspeaking.

Just a few days ago an audit of the books of the Three Rivers harbour board was ordered by the government. This audit was conducted by two well educated gentlemen, both graduates of . good schools, but neither of them could speak French. They were there for two weeks checking books in an office where nothing but French is spoken. I am not blaming the government or any minister of the government; I am blaming the system. There must be interference of some kind. Just picture an auditor not able to speak a word of English being sent to audit books in the city represented by the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church). He would not last two hours; he would sooft find himself in the waters of lake Ontario. We, too, have water in the St. Lawrence, and, Mr. Speaker, it is deep.

I do not want to appear to be harsh about these things, but I must tell the house what

The Budget-Mr. Gariepy

has happened. Much has been said about the dissatisfaction existing in the province of Quebec. We have even had the younger element speaking of secession, but I am not of that school. If this is not a matter of dollars and cents, if it is not a matter of a share of the patronage, it is at least a matter of self-respect and dignity. The two million people of our province must receive some consideration, and I raise this question in the hope that some means may be found to do justice to the population I represent. I am not speaking for this or that individual; I am speaking for a group, and I want results. Something must be done to give satisfaction and to improve the service.

I have just one more remark to make in this connection. Last session we properly voted $10,000,000 to close the relief camps and provide work on the railroads throughout the country. This vote was criticized by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens), but apart from him I think we were all of one mind as to the propriety of making that move. Mr. Humphrey Mitchell, a good friend of mine, a man with great ability and a former member of this house, was put in charge of the expenditure of that $10,000,000. I will admit he did not do too badly for us in the province of Quebec, but the fact remains that he was not able to speak French. He could not talk to the men who came to him to get work; he could not make the right contact with our population. Here is a case where the expenditure of a few paltry dollars would have provided a bilingual assistant.

I wish to call attention to a remark made yesterday by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens). He was emphasizing the importance of doing away with the party spirit as we have it in this country, but the example he chose was a bad one. for he said that fifteen Liberal members had stood in their places and denounced the government's defence policy and then like sheep voted for the very policy they had denounced. For mv part I wish to protest against that statement. The hon. member did not live up to his reputation; he is usually more fortunate in expressing himself. He should remember that it takes more courage to dissent than to be a "yes-man." In that particular situation the position was clear, although it may not have been clear to the hon. member and others. Speaking for myself, I am not against a policy of expenditures for the defence of this country, but to my mind the amount that was proposed, the increase intended to be made, was not justifiable; it was too large. That is where I drew the line. With the

general policy of the government I was in perfect accord, but in regard to this increase I raised a protest, and under the rules the only way to do it effectively was by voting on the amendment to reduce that amount, which was done in committee of the whole house. No other course could be followed. Besides, in spite of what has been said, another aspect of the situation has appeared in the newspapers without any contradiction, and I mention this as a reason for hesitating before we follow our leaders. The following statement appears in Saturday Night of February 27, at page 4:

The 1937 program now before parliament is simply the 1933 program resubmitted. . . .

The memorandum with which the general staff submitted it to the government stated specifically that the purpose . . . was to enable Canada to contribute and maintain an efficient contingent in the event of trouble for the empire.

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

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. I think the hon. member is out of order, because he is referring to a former debate which is closed. I will ask him to confine his remarks to the budget debate.

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

Wilfrid Gariépy

Liberal

Mr. GARIEPY:

I had completed my

remarks on this score, but I wanted the hon. member for Kootenay East to be informed as to the stand I took on this matter.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

While on this point, may I ask my hon. friend whether he prefers to take the word of Saturday Night to that of my right hon. leader and myself?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Wilfrid Gariépy

Liberal

Mr. GARIEPY:

Mr. Speaker, since you have decided that this matter is out of order I shall not enlarge upon it. but I think I could give a reply to the question of the minister which would not reflect on his integrity, honesty of purpose or ability. He knows well the esteem, regard and consideration that I have for him. I have followed his career for years. I know from where he started, and to-day in this house he enjoys the respect of one and all. He is an authority in matters of government. But he, like othe* ministers, must take advice from those surrounding him, from members of his staff. He must read reports. He must appreciate them, each one uses his own judgment. In the past the people of this country have been misled, not intentionally, quite without bad intention on the part of any of those concerned. In the minds of those who gave the advice there were no doubt good reasons at the time the people were invited to endorse and follow a certain course, but afterwards it was found out that through lack of proper information some mistakes had been made. In this case, which was so important, I decided after consultation and study to take the stand

The Budget-Mr. Gariepy

that I have mentioned. I did so with all due respect to my leaders, who should not forget that the same kind of debate arose in 1922 over the same principle, over figures of the same kind, and-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. The hon. member is out of order.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

And that is not an answer to my question.

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?

Mr. GARIEP Y@

Mr. Speaker, I bow to your decision. I did not intend at all to transgress. I want to respect your decision, and if I erred it was because I wanted to deal justly and adequately with the remark that was made by the minister who asked the question. I desired to show my good faith. I have no personal object to serve in this matter; it is a question of doing my duty to the public, of being fair to those who have elected us.

I have spent a considerable time in the west. I served for some years as a minister of the crown, and on every occasion I have manifested my respect for British institutions, and I have never said anything disparaging of the great flag under which we live. My stand is written in black and white in all the books in which my observations while I was a member of the legislature have been recorded.

The budget which we are now discussing has been accepted with great enthusiasm throughout the country. Much has been said of the needs of western Canada. With those views I do not disagree; on the contrary I intend to support every expenditure for the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta which, as we all know, are so hard hit at the present time. But it should not be forgotten that if we are able to do something for these younger sister provinces it is because the older provinces have developed themselves, have maintained relatively a sufficient prosperity, and have contributed substantially to the credit of the country as a whole. I think the time has come to state t3iat the old provinces of Ontario and Quebec should also receive from the public treasury some measure of consideration. I may be told that this is a matter of provincial politics, and it is to some extent. But I have been satisfied for some time that the agricultural parts of the province of Quebec are suffering from a lack of proper production and proper marketing. We have there the oldest farming lands in the country, splendid stretches that have been occupied for ages by farmers of no mean ability. But, though I am not a specialist in that line, I am convinced that the efforts of these toilers could be better directed so that their

products would be of better quality and more varied; and then these products should be marketed to better advantage. There is lack of organization and coordination. I wonder whether one of these commissions created by the government could not give some time and attention to this problem.

I am not going to weary the house with details but I have no doubt that some man like Doctor Tory, who was at one time the head of the National Research Council, could if so instructed get to the root of the trouble and suggest ways and means whereby some improvement could be brought about.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

Is my hon. friend aware that the privy council has recently told us that it is not our business to deal with these matters?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Wilfrid Gariépy

Liberal

Mr. GARIEPY:

I will not enter into' a legal argument. I prefaced my remarks with the statement that it was essentially a provincial matter. At the same time, here we are dealing with matters almost of the same kind in other provinces. It may be said that the marketing of wheat is something related to commerce and trade and is therefore a dominion subject. Well, it might be made a matter for the dominion to deal with if we wished to improve marketing conditions for the farmers of Quebec and to secure better markets for their eggs, butter, cheese and all the other products of the farm.

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

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

For export?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Wilfrid Gariépy

Liberal

Mr. GARIEPY:

Quite so. I am sure an investigation would show that not enough has been done to help the farmers of the province I come from. I will not say that they are in a very bad way, but they are not as prosperous as their toil and the natural resources at itheir disposal should make them. Their organization, I repeat, can be improved upon and I trust that the government will look into this phase of the economic situation in the province of Quebec.

As I said at the beginning, with slight changes, this budget is on the whole satisfactory to me and (for that reason I am going to support it. I support it with confidence; I support it with enthusiasm; I support it, satisfied that ithe members of the government are fair-minded enough, in this favourable year, to take into consideration the remarks I have made, especially with regard to the public service and the work that is done throughout my province. There is a grievance there, a serious grievance; but I am not making an appeal for sympathy. I leave it to the judgment and the business sense of everyone here. Peace-loving as the

The Budget-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

electors of my riding may be, when it comes to dealing with the government of the country they want to meet people who can understand them and get at the substance of their ideas, people with whom they can really fraternize. This can be done, and there is no reason why we should not satisfy the people of Quebec in this regard. I trust that at the next session when I speak again I shall have the pleasure of congratulating the ministers and of acknowledging that a step has been taken in the right direction and some real improvement brought about.

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IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. J. S. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

The final accomplishment of any worthy task constitutes its greatest merit, and it is a great thing for humanity that that merit first falls to the performer of the task. For that reason, therefore, I congratulate the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) on having brought to final accomplishment a very arduous task well and truly performed. But when I say that, what is that task? What does the budget teach us? To me. unfortunately, it is a tale twice told, as flowing water dammed again.

It is true the minister draws attention to the fact that we are entering upon better conditions and that happy days are near again. But I am reminded of a saw in common parlance in the British West Indies, appropriate to the days of horse-drawn vehicles. It runs: Up the hill hurry me not; down the hill worry me not; on the level spare me not. And so because the minister conceives that Canada is now running on the level road he still spares not the tax-ridden, war-worn and depression-wearied citizen. But, unfortunately, Canada is not running along the level road, and all too soon that fact must become apparent even to the minister himself, whose historically orthodox approach to all the problems of finance places him in a niche almost entirely by himself, admired it is true by the monitors of big finance, but almost too far removed from the flow of our world's affairs to be of real fundamental value to this country. I am saying this very deliberately. I said it last year. I accused the minister of having produced a banker budget, conceived and worked out by an orthodox banker mind.

This budget of 1937 is last year's brother, and it carries the generic weaknesses of the family. I want this statement to be a condemnation of the minister and the government in so far as they are responsible, because in spite of their real honesty of intent, which I am daily coming more and more to recognize and respect, there is nevertheless an underlying sense of sophistication which tends to render them oblivious of the changing times and conditions in which we are now

living, and causes them to inhibit the practical connotations of the archaic efforts to which they commit themselves. It is for these reasons that the first budget was conceived in a desperate and uncompromising attempt to balance the accounts of the nation, malgre the wails of the homeless and the curses of the frustrated. The younger brother of to-day is only slightly less unyielding, save in the matter of national defence, which has been very much contested, and with some sops here and there to the wailing. Let me say again, some sops here and there to the wailing. But why does the minister soak the sops in vinegar? I received a telegram from Vancouver dated March 8, which I shall read to the house:

Blind people in British Columbia beg your aid in house protesting unnatural inhuman marriage clause blind pensions bill wherein blind persons marrying are penalized by losing half pension. This would only prevent civil marriages and encourage irregular situations. British Columbia with 650 blind persons has had only seven both blind marriages, all in Vancouver, with only one child to each of two couples. We estimate total both blind marriages in Canada about 70 therefore problem not serious. We regard as unfair to deserving citizens the twenty year residential qualification. The calamity of blindness may strike worthy citizens any time and we suggest ten years' residence. Recommend no limit be placed on permissible earnings over pension by blind. Protest meeting held in Vancouver to-night.

Canadian Federation of the Blind, Mrs. E. Scott, secretary, and John Munro, president.

So the government, in giving, gives with one hand and snatches away with the other. Still the have-nots are plundered and the haves scarcely feel the drain; still to-day the working man hangs nailed to the cross, pouring forth his life blood for the salvation of the rich. I am not for one moment losing sight of the levies paid by the industrialist and the primary producer, but in our economy today we live with the idle rich and the idle poor, and in effect the worker has to keep them both. These two idle groups, the contributory and the non-contributory, those living with their hands in the pot, and those scarcely existing on hand-outs from the pot, are the reasons annexed to the economic difficulties of our position. The one cannot be considered apart from the other. The necessary flow of our economic affairs is already developing a delta in the river of production, and the arm called national revenue is broken into one large branch which one might call the interest reach, diverting 30 per cent of the flow, while another large branch is digging its way tortuously through the deltr growing year by year, and in 1936 it absoroed and diverted another 30 per cent of the flow.

1698 COMMONC

The Budget-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

I refer to the relief channel. It attained that percentage by adding war relief figures to the ordinary relief problem. This represents 60 per cent of the effluent, and is a truly staggering proportion.

Let us figure this out. The available national financial capital of the country, symbolized by the idle rich-I say symbolized- and the available human capital of the country, symbolized by the idle poor, together demand 60 per cent of the nation's revenue, and return nothing to the country but the continued existence of the obligations. The two arms I have spoken of are steadily growing and will unquestionably come together unless the government in general and the Minister of Finance in particular will make a speedy and earnest effort to realize and act upon some of the profound truths in economic heterodoxy. It is suicidal to the country and to us all to refuse to change. If the present safety of the country depends on concessions to orthodoxy, then I assure the house that the future safety of this country will be assured only by facing facts obvious even to the man in the street, and by preparing entering wedges born of sound understanding which will, for instance, prepare interest for its proper place in our economy. I say, prepare interest for its proper place in our economy. This is a big subject, and I do not propose to discuss it fully this evening, but I want to cast one thought into the pool.

We are recording constantly the failure of housing. Housing demands loans; loans demand interest. The potential householder hesitates to build because he sees all around him houses forfeited to the mortgagees and lost because of tax imposts. There is no reason I can discover why interest should be a first call on repayment. The government might do well to consider, and if possible enact, that all repayments shall be at least in part repayments of principal, and that the principal outstanding shall be the only basis on which interest is charged; and once the principal is repaid, there remains still the repayment of deferred interest and interest due.

Another entering wedge which might easily be prepared is one which will assure to every citizen in the country not merely a starvation existence or all-but-withheld dole, but an existence determined by the productive capacity of the country, subject only to its natural resources.

Another entering wedge should be prepared in view of the fact that the unemployed in the country are largely unemployable in nor-

mal avenues of production, and while no man or woman or child in Canada should at any time go without food, clothing or shelter, the assurance of these cachets to existence carries with it the responsibility of service to the country; therefore an amazing increase of social service by its people should be discovered, invented and devised to take the place of self-destroying idleness and frustration. Has the government grasped the significance of that statement: self-destroying idleness and frustration? To-day in Canada the young suffer with the old. Is youth developed in frustration? Is it right that youth should be frustrated? Go into the forest and look about you. There you will see trees which in the early days of their growth were frustrated; stunted in growth, gnarled and twisted and ugly, they point a lesson which we dare not neglect. As with the tree, so with the man. Let us in Canada beware. Until every citizen of Canada is freed from his present distress; until every citizen can face the future with the assurance of suitable and adequate food, clothing and shelter, no government, no minister of finance, and no minister of labour can be considered to have earnestly and effectively grappled with the necessity for economic adjustment which is compellingly evident, or even to be worthy of the full approval of the citizens.

To do all this demands a premise different from that presented by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) when he said in his budget speech, at page 1213 of Hansard:

Profits are the mainspring of economic activity in the system under which we operate. Increasing profits are therefore the best augury for increasing employment, the best indication of the approach of the day when private industry will be able to release governmental bodies from the enormous burden which they have had to bear in recent years.

Let us face this: It will be at least two years from this date, as presaged by the Minister of Finance, before the budget can be balanced. Then must come an expansion of expenditure due to the needs of the country which were neglected during the years of deficits. Grant, however, that Canada is facing a lengthy era of prosperity; for the next sixty years give her an average surplus of $25,000,000 per year. What do we find? Two generations still to come will have succeeded in wiping out nearly half the present national debt, and they will hand on to their children and grandchildren an obligation contracted by forebears whom they scarcely knew, and whom they cannot respect as worthy citizens of a country which we hope will still be in that day a worthy country in which to

The Budget-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

live. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that instead of attaching himself to such a premise the minister should endeavour to discover and appreciate the value of this better metaphor: The needs of a people are the mainspring of its economic activities, and the profits from these activities are the hairsprings operating the escapement, and so governing those activities.

Is there anything wrong with that idea? Is it not more true to actual facts? In crude form the post office and the postal system are developing along these lines. Is it not possible to bring the same sensible formula to the development of our natural resources and public utilities? We must come to it; why not face the facts and prepare for it? The minister must surely see that in this form of national activity is presented the truest form of thrift-and I use the word in its true etymological sense-and of progress. Let me read what the minister has said with regard to thrift, at page 167 of Hansard, and repeated at page 1392:

Moreover, sir, I still believe in the virtue of thrift, I still believe that a man in the full flush of his manhood has not merely the right but the duty to himself and to those who depend upon him to set aside in any manner which seems good to him a portion of the proceeds of his labour to-day in order that he and those dependent upon him may not later be dependent upon the state.

If it were possible to ensure the success of every investment of the frugal and saving youth who so loves his country that he does not wish to become a charge upon it, and therefore withholds from his present dependents and from himself, in order that he may give the fruits of the fruits of his labours to his future failing self and his future failing dependents; if it were possible to ensure that these investments would give satisfactory returns to this intrepid youth, there might be something in what the minister has said. In effect, however, the youth is exhorted to withhold from his present fullness in order to cast it into the whirlpool of investment, the major force of which is purely speculative, and the vortex of which is very largely disorder and- loss.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. J. S. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

Mr. Speaker, when the house rose at six o'clock I was in process of questioning the minister's 31111-107J

exhortation to thrift, and I did question that word thrift as being scarcely applicable in its true etymological sense. I think it was rather intended to convey the idea which in its tenor from comparative to superlative runs through savings, frugality, parsimoniousness, penuriousness, niggardliness, miserliness and sordidness.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I didn't mean that.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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IND

James Samuel Taylor

Independent

Mr. TAYLOR (Nanaimo):

But if that is the meaning of thrift in its mild form, which the minister implied, then I want to draw attention to some facts. The minister still believes in the virtue of thrift, and I want him to understand that I am not in any sense unkindly or cynical in the sense in which Mark Antony was, when I say that the minister is an honourable man, and so are they all, all members of the government, all honourable men.

But still believing in the virtue of thrift let me read what thrift did to a man in Vancouver. This is a letter I received shortly after the date it was written:

2930 Granville street,

Vancouver, B.C., Jan. 4, 1937.

Mr. J. S. Taylor, M.P.

House of Commons,

Ottawa.

Old Age Pensions

Dear Sir:

Knowing that you are especially interested in the general welfare of old age pensioners, I am taking the liberty of calling the attention of parliament, through your representation, to one or two weaknesses, or injustices, of the Old Age Pensions Act, and also of asking the question why it is our Canadian government penalizes thrift.

To state my own case briefly, and there must be many others in a similar position, I am in my seventy-second year and have been receiving a small old age pension during the past fifteen months. I worked at my trade, lithography, in Scotland and in Canada dose on fifty-five years. On January 27, 1931, while still employed, my wife and I purchased a Canadian government annuity, policy number 13078. which cost $2,980.80, and which brought us in the sum of $20 monthly, which sums were immediately transferred to the savings bank, as they came to hand. On August 16, 1933, being now permanently unemployed, my wife and I withdrew from the bank the $620 received in cheques from the above mentioned Canadian government annuity, and added to that sum the balance of our savings, $2,827, making the sum of $3,447, and purchased another Canadian government annuity, policy number 17354 value for the sum of $25 monthly which, the two policies combined, bring us in a total of $45, or $22.50 each per month.

On attaining the age of seventy on October 1, 1935, I made application for old age pension and discovered that, because my wife and I for fifty years (just passed our golden wedding

1698 COMMON'S

The Budget-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

anniversary) had been thrifty and saved wherever we could, and then handed all ($6,427.80) back to the Canadian government, this same government in return penalizes me to the extent of $12.18 per month or in other words, I am awarded an old age pension of $7.82 per month instead of the recognized $20 per month. The British government does not penalize good citizenship and thrift!

In conclusion, I may say that our income and expenses per month are as follows:

Income-

Canadian government annuities.. .. $45 00Canadian old age pension

7 82

Expenses-

Kent

$20 00Gas, light, etc

2 82

Income $52 82

Rent, etc 22 82

Divided by two people. . 30 00

$15 00 each, or 50 cents a day.

Fifty cents per day each for food, clothing, incidentals. What a glorious achievement for fifty years of self sacrifice, plus a sum of nearly $6,500.

I am,

Yours sincerely,

Henry Jas. Rhodes.

Let me earnestly ask the minister if he considers that Henry James Rhodes and his wife, who have metaphorically toiled all night and caught nothing, should be satisfied with the sacrifice they made for their country to save it the expense of $12.18 per month-$20 less $7.82, for the absolutely unpredictable life of this worthy citizen now already seventy-two years of age.

Is it not realized that Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes would have been far better off if they had spent their savings in a leisurely trip all round the world for nearly two years-let me say two years less One day, in order to put them within the provisions of the act-returning to the shelter of the unworthily called old age pension, for the evening of their days? What benefits could they not have conferred upon those they were destined to meet if they could have related all their experiences, and said that their country honoured them for their long service, their honesty of effort, their sterling citizenship and those qualities which reflect the highest worth of its people? To-day, every month they receive another painful reminder of the ashes of effort which too often render miserable the worthiest people. And the government of this country can enter a

*wedge which will change all that. Is it too much earnestly to implore them to consider it and do it-and do it quickly?

Many points remain to be spoken about in connection with the budget speech, but I want now to refer to one which appears at page 1216 of Hansard. Having partially explained the obvious failure of employment to keep pace with the striking gains in business activity previously reported, the minister (Mr. Dunning) goes on to say:

For the rest, the explanation rests upon the progress of invention and the improvement in technical and managerial processes. To this extent it is a phenomenon which is usually met with in the early stages of recovery from depression. As it indicates an increased efficiency in the productive mechanism, its results are not to be deplored. Its ill effects are temporary: in the long run it increases employment by cheapening production and expanding consumer purchasing power. As recovery gathers momentum, increases in employment will tend to conform more closely to expansion in business activity.

With all due respect to the minister, I fail entirely to understand how he can make that statement without fear of being accused of terminological inexactitude. Invention and discovery grow like snowballs rolling down a mountain slope. Machines become more effective and more labour-displacing. Our present economy indicates no possible way by which the wage earners can avail themselves of the products which increase the complexity of our already too complex lives. I quote again briefly from page 1223 of Hansard:

The sales tax is now the largest single source of governmental revenues.

This tax meets with strong abuse and opposition. It is for that reason that it gains a certain amount of consideration from me, because nothing induces me to study a thing more than the realization that it is opposed. I am disposed to believe that it will be many years before we can get rid of the sales tax. Having considered the matter carefully, I have come to the conclusion that if we must have this tax, I doubt if there is a better tax, provided it is properly levied. It is by all odds the easiest and the simplest tax to levy, and the easiest and the simplest tax to collect. It is a tax placed directly at the point of consumption, and thus is prevented that woeful pyramiding which lies between the importer of dutiable goods and the ultimate price to the consumer, where importer, jobber, manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer all exact percentages of profit on the moneys they spend for duty as well as on the money they spend for goods. This is not

The Budget-Mr. Taylor (Nanaimo)

pure taxation, and .some method should be devised by which all charges should be assessed for payment at the point of purchase for ultimate consumption. I confess that the question bristles with difficulties, but I want to draw the attention of the house to the facts as they exist.

The minister has told us that approximately 380,000,000 is received in customs duties. I dare say that an undefined and probably undefinable amount less than $80,000.000 could be recovered if the minister could devise a method by which it could be levied at the point of ultimate consumption. It is quite possible that at least $20,000,000. and probably up to $50,000,000, could be secured if machinery could be devised to handle it. Unquestionably it would represent an increase in the amount of duty, but it could be tried out in connection with certain commodities which could be easily traced by the government, such as motor cars or other large and costly items.

However, the sales tax itself is very effective and is relatively complete, but I suggest to the minister that if he must continue this tax, he should preserve this ideal and remove all present tendencies in any other direction. I further suggest that whole or at least partial relief from sales tax should be grantedi on those commodities which are the necessary subsistence items of the poor. The crumbs that fall from the rich man's table should neither be grudged nor minished, nor should they be made difficult to gather. That, sir, is the least kindly way of expressing a very real idea.

The next point I noticed in the budget is one to which I draw attention with considerable pleasure. It is a welcome innovation and. constitutes an almost epochmaking provision. Its advantages should be demonstrated to every minister of finance who will follow the present minister. I refer to the issuance of perpetual bonds in the field of the nation's debt. The minister states at page 1231:

The issue of perpetual bonds in the Canadian market represented a new departure in dominion financing. It was intended as the initial step in a program which is designed to provide for the consolidation and simplification of our public debt structure.

All efforts of big business to prevent the encouragement of these Canadian consol issues should be strenuously resisted, for the minister will find that they mark the peak of security and acceptability, with low interest, ruling in our dominion. However, I desire to say that I do not agree with the minister when he says that he wishes to set up a general sinking fund for amortization. As a general principle I do not favour sinking funds.

If a security is not good at the end of its term, it is really not good at the beginning. Too frequently the investment of sinking funds is made in securities which have proved to be very insecure, such as many of the bonds of defaulting municipalities in British Columbia and elsewhere. The best security can admit of no better, and consols need no support from a sinking fund lying sleeping in a less secure resting place. Therefore, I suggest to the minister a policy of repurchase in the open market when the price of the bonds falls below a predetermined figure. This would be easy of accomplishment through the ordinary operations of the Bank of Canada and would establish the reliability of the investment for long term investors, and ensure its relative translatable utility when in the nature of things it must find its way to the market.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I think the hon. member has mistaken the meaning of my remarks regarding a sinking fund. The object was not so much to enhance the value of the investment in the hands of the investors as it was to have a definite plan for the gradual reduction of our debt, somewhat along the lines the hon. member has indicated.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL
Sub-subtopic:   FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

March 11, 1937