May 26, 1941

LIB

Donald Alexander McNiven

Liberal

Mr. McNIVEN:

The minister made some reference to cigarettes, and the leader of the opposition has indicated that the minister may be using the cigarette trade as a means for collecting additional revenue. I should like to know if there is any such plan that has peculiar application to western Canada. I hold in my hand a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes made by the Imperial Tobacco company. This package contains twenty-two cigarettes. When I was home at Easter

Excise Tax Act

I found that the same package in Saskatchewan contains only twenty cigarettes but is sold at exactly the same price. That represents an increase in price'of 2i cents or 10 per cent in Saskatchewan as compared with Ontario. Is that due to an effort on the part of the government to collect additional revenue, or is it a device on the part of the manufacturer to collect an additional price from the people of Saskatchewan? It cannot be explained by freight, which is the usual excuse advanced by manufacturers for imposing an increased price upon those of us who live in western Canada.

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Section agreed to. Sections 2 and 3 agreed to. On section 4-Licence to carry on business of tobacco packer.


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

On the point of licences again, is this to be one fee for all time, or an annual fee?

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LIB
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The bill does not make it clear.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

The reason is that all excise duty licences expire on March 31.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The new section 277 seems to me to be a very large and comprehensive delegation of authority to the minister to make regulations. Is this necessary? I know we are in an age of delegation of authority. Parliament has delegated almost all its powers except that of levying taxation and the provision of ways and means. I am not in a position to say whether this is necessary or not; I do not know enough about the matter. But on the principle involved I want the minister to justify such a large and comprehensive delegation of authority to the minister. Could the regulations not have been put into the statute? I see the commissioner of excise gives a most emphatic "no". Of course he probably knows a good deal more about it than I do. But that little incident illustrates the point that has often been borne in upon me: I wonder if I cannot page some of the members of parliament who have been complaining that the deputy ministers are running the government, not the government running the departments. That remark, however, is made only facetiously; I know the Department of National Revenue is very well administered, but the incident that occurred a moment ago serves to illustrate what has often been said in that regard, not so much by me as by hon. members supporting the government. I note that they are all very quiet in their seats or

have disappeared from the chamber, and that I am not going to get any support on this point. But I would ask the minister to clarify the position. Why is it necessary to delegate these very wide powers to the minister?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

We could have put in a blanket section which would carry the same authority. We have here detailed portions of the 'business that will be subject to regulations. The industry changes from time to time, and the requirements change, and the minister, on the advice of his commissioner, who is experienced in the working out of the details, puts the regulations into effect so that the act can be properly administered.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

The effect of that statement is that by a system of trial and error the commissioner will finally arrive at a method of government by regulation which he thinks will block up every hole.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

We certainly hope to block up every hole.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Let me call the minister's attention to section 6 of the bill, not by way of anticipating that section but by way of comparison. By sections 278, 279 and 280, regulations are embodied in the statute, as distinguished from the delegation of authority to the minister provided for by section 277. The two things do not jibe. Why the one and not the other? Why is the authority taken here and not sought there? It is true they do not deal with exactly the same subject matter, but all of them provide machinery for the enforcement of the law.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

How many new excise officers will be required to administer this act, if every packer has to have an excise officer full time?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

It is anticipated that we shall use our present staff almost entirely. A few more may be required, depending upon how many licences are necessary, but very few.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

In other words there is a full time excise officer on the premises of every tobacco packer in the country now?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

I think the hon. member is referring to a dealer.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

The one who has to take out the licence. The minister said a full time excise officer would have to be on the premises of each packer. How many additional excise officers will be required to administer that part of the act, or is it possible to put the tobacco in warehouses and simply have an officer check on it from time to time?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

At present officers are going around inspecting the tobacco dealers, of whom we have some four thousand. That

Excise Tax Act

is done, of course, with the help of the mounted police. Now, however, if we have all the domestic tobacco going into the hands of the packers, one inspector will be in charge of each plant, instead of having inspectors go around and inspect some four thousand dealers.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

That does not indicate, however, how many excise inspectors will be required. How many tobacco dealers will have to have their accounts checked under this new provision? In other words, this is a change, and according to the minister's own statement it will now be necessary to have a full time excise officer at each place. How many places are there, and how large an addition to the staff of the department will be required?

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. GIBSON:

It may not result in any addition at all to the staff. Already we have inspectors going around to the dealers; and if the dealers are eliminated, the inspectors will be in the plants of the packers, who will pay the tax. We cannot estimate how many packers will demand licences. There might be forty or fifty, but as I said before it is not anticipated that there will be any great increase in the staff required.

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NAT

Clayton Earl Desmond

National Government

Mr. DESMOND:

In the opinion of the department what loss has been sustained by not having had a check on the raw leaf dealers of the dominion? Has any approximate compilation been made in that regard?

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May 26, 1941