It will be shown, I believe, in the report which has been asked for that their stocks have increased to a marked extent. I might add, for the benefit of the minister, that if I remember rightly, the date on which this return is to be made is July 18. I do not see how it is possible to have the return compiled and sent in by that date. I wish to add my voice to that of the leader of the opposition in urging the minister to give this matter serious thought.
While the chairman may rule that what I am about to say has no direct bearing upon the resolution under discussion, I am going to point out something else. Smaller retailers throughout Canada, and particularly on the eastern coast, feel that discrimination is being shown in favour of the larger stores in the manner in which the parking and non-parlcing regulations are being put into effect. The large stores have the advantage of extensive parking spaces, while the smaller stores do not enjoy that benefit. It has been said-I do not say it-that this is due to the dollar-a-year men being in a position to affect directly traffic and other matters which work to the real benefit of the large stores. While this may have no direct bearing on the resolution under discussion, it may be one more little indication pointing to favouritism in so far as the large stores are concerned.
So far as I am concerned I want to facilitate the passage of the minister's resolution. But I would ask him, in view of the discussion which was raised here this evening, not to press this item but to go on to another one and, between now and to-morrow, when we meet again, have his officials get all the information available with respect to stocks in the big department stores-
-and in warehouses, at a certain stated period. I think this will be interesting and useful information.
I am not going to throw out any insinuations, but it is true that Mr. Burton's son is in charge of retail sales in the wartime prices and trade board. I think it would be better if he were not there. No doubt he is one of the best retail men in Canada, but do you not see where it gives an opportunity to question a man's integrity when he puts himself in that position. He is there as a dollar-a-year man; he knows what is going on; he is paid by his firm-one of the biggest retailers in the country. I am not making any attack on him at
all, but there is the opportunity for a misunderstanding, and it seems to me that men ought not to allow themselves to be put in that position. No wonder there is criticism when an appointment like that is made, having regard to the ramifications of his own employment and the knowledge which he gets as a result of his dollar-a-year position. I just throw that out as a suggestion to the minister. I am not making any charge. No doubt he is one of the most conscientious men in the world. But these men leave themselves liable to charges by people who perhaps are not fair about it.
I ask the minister to get the information the committee asks for with respect to the stocks of the big retailers. If what the senior hon. member for Halifax says is correct, the minister can get it from the bureau of statistics.
While I am on my feet might I make this suggestion to the minister. Last year the sets of resolutions were not reported one by one as they were passed, but he reserved the time of the report until several sets were passed, and then introduced the bills. If he would have each set of resolutions reported to the Chair as they are passed and a bill introduced, we would have more time to study the bill. I think it would be fair to hon. members to do that. For instance, this afternoon we passed one set of resolutions dealing with the Excise Act. I would ask if, before we rise to-night, the minister would have these resolutions reported and then introduce the bill, so that we may get the bill and study it.
We will get the bills in as fast as I can arrange it, but the legal work of preparation of these bills and the work of checking is tremendous, and I do not know that the bill on the Excise Act will be ready to-night.
What I am thinking about is the introduction of the bill so that we may see it and study it. We are near the end of this session, and things will be done in a hurry. All the time you can give us to study the bill is important to us. The minister and his officials know what they are doing, but we do not know it until we see the printed bill.
I will bear that in mind and get the bills in just as fast after the resolutions are passed as is possible.
It is all right for this item to stand, but I must make it clear that the arrangements under the resolution will have to be as stated in the amendment. That is a peculiarity of our system; there must not be any
Special War Revenue Act
vacuum; there must not be any interim period. The taxes on certain of these items go off to-night as of to-morrow morning; either they do or they do not, and there cannot be any doubt about it, because otherwise there will be speculation on what eventually will be done. So it must be taken, I think, that the amendment I proposed is settled as far as trading to-morrow is concerned.
That is notice to the public. I want to make that clear. May I say that no one has a keener appreciation than I myself of the difficulties in this matter as indicated in the observations of the hon. senior member for Halifax. I never know in these things whether somebody has been benefited a little at the expense of somebody else, or not, but I heard all the representations, and when the retail association of Canada, with Mr. George Hougham representing them, a man who is always associated in my mind with the representation of the smaller rather than the larger retailers, although I think he represents all, was in favour of moving all these articles back to the manufacturer's level, while I decided not to do that on the bulk of them for the very reasons that the hon. senior member for Halifax advanced to-night, I did think I should do it on items yielding about two million dollars of revenue here, because of the difficulties of administration that have developed since I introduced the budget, the tales of woe that we have had-
staffs. I do not want to say anything about my friend the commissioner of excise, but he has a responsibility about these matters, and he does not like to assume the responsibility of enforcing a tax unless it is enforced.
Time after time. Sometimes I do not, but usually I do. I do if I can, because I know what his difficulties are.
I was minister of that department for five years, and I have repeatedly said in this chamber that this house should take great care to see, when it enacts laws, that it enacts the kind of laws which the people will respect and which can be enforced reasonably well. In some respects, I am afraid, this is a little . off the line, but we have kept it on to the extent that we felt we could, and the recommendations I have made to-night embody the result of my judgment and that of my officials, after a very considerable amount of discussion and a great many difficulties. I am content to let that rest until to-morrow. With regard to what was said about the administrators, I do not object at all to any remarks like that.
I realize that when we go out and select executives of department stores and put them in the position of administrators of the retail trade or anything else, it will be said that they are using their positions, to help themselves and the interests with which they have been connected.
say that, I said that they were open to the charge that they might, I did not suggest that they did. I was very guarded in what I said. But they are open to that charge by virtue of their taking those positions and still retaining their connections with their parent firms. By so doing they lay themselves open to the chaige.
What are we to do about it? Consider the position the government is in.
If we do not take men who know the business, we must take someone who does not know the business and who will have no authority in administering it. That is the difficulty. We try to get round that by taking particularly able civil servants where we find them, and when we do that we are bitterly criticized for taking theorists-