May I draw a comparison between the appropriations of the department of agriculture and those of our war services? No one can fail to notice the considerable discrepancy in the amounts allotted to these departments. As we have already seen, agriculture is an industry of still greater national importance in time of war than in time of peace. Why, then, would not the government grant to agricultural associations the same subsidies as in the past? Why should they not continue to give to agriculture all the necessary assistance for its encouragement and development?
I wish to discuss another question: that is to say the general incidence of taxation. It is always more equitable to tax luxuries, amusements and superfluity than to subject to taxation the essentials of life.
Inasmuch as the respective provincial and federal jurisdictions warrant it, theatres, clubs, amusement halls, taverns and all organizations non-essential to Canadian economic life should be required to assume a larger share of the burden imposed on industrial workers, farmers, employers, business men and manufacturers. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) has requested our population to make unprecedented sacrifices. The budget he brought down gives food for thought even to the most apathetic. The enormous expenditure for war purposes will require important additional revenues. In order to meet this need, existing taxes will be insufficient and, inevitably, further sacrifices will be requested from our people. In these days of sufferings and trials, the government should not forget the inevitable reactions that must follow the war. In this period of tremendous expenditure, he
Supply-State of Agriculture
must not overlook the maintenance of our financial structure. The cumulation of taxes under which our people is burdened should remind the administration of the necessity of warding off the possible collapse of our economic life, the foundation of which is agriculture.
Would it be reasonable for the authorities to leave agriculture settle its own problems? Or, on the contrary, will they realize that their duty commands them to consider the ever more pressing requests of the farming communities? If the government were to adopt the first of these solutions, I would not hesitate in taxing it of injustice towards our country. In Britain itself national defence is the only field that is given more importance than farming. Will the Canadian government leave our agriculture to its deplorable lot? It is not necessary to give much thought to the distressing condition of agriculture to realize that the time has come for applying drastic remedies and that both inertia and indifference in the matter would be sinful. The time has come when we must drop down from the clouds and face the real facts of life. The directors of professional organizations and farmers unions have often brought the attention of the government to the deficiencies of agriculture. Its economic aspects have been pointed out by the leaders in this field. When shall we settle the problems of the present and thus prepare for the future? At the close of the present war, the nations, weakened and bruised, will look to the land for obtaining the sorely needed regenerative food and vitamins. What will then become of disorganized nations if the neglected agricultural classes are unable to revitalize them and assure their survival?
_ A few moments ago, I requested that farmers, farmers' sons, farm employees and all persons employed in industries connected with agriculture be exempted from military training. I also wish to put on record a resolution of the county council of Two Mountains making a similar request. It was unanimously adopted by the mayors of seventeen municipalities at a regular meeting held on March 12, 1941. It reads as follows:
La corporation du comte des Deux-Montagnes To whom it may concern
St. Scholastique, P.Q.
March 14, 1941.
Whereas Canada request that everyone concentrate all their efforts towards victory;
Whereas the best manner in which the farmer may be of assistance to his country is by making sure that there is no shortage of food;
Whereas if farmers and farmers' sons, working on farms, are called for a four-month period of military training, this will impair to a large degree the production of vegetables, dairy products, etc.;
Whereas if farmers' sons leave the farms to undergo military training, a large number of them will never return to their original calling. . . .
The act has been amended since this resolution was adopted.