That is irrespective of the tremendous amount of money which is expended on advertisements and propaganda of various kinds.
I suggest that careful consideration be given to the remarks of the leader of the opposition, with a view to having this tax increased to the highest possible percentage. As I recall it, in the last war federal and provincial taxes combined amounted to $17 a gallon. At that time opposition was expressed to the impost because it was said that it encouraged bootlegging. But since those days, nearly thirty years ago, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have organized a most efficient system to discover bootlegging; there is no more of this menace in the country, and I think something could very well be done to put liquor on practically a prohibitory basis. It is not a necessity of life, although it may be needed in certain types of sickness or other extraordinary cases. In a general way hard liquor is one of the luxuries, and if a man wants to have a drink he should be required to pay for it. At a time when we are cutting
Excise Act Amendment
expenses and asking people to make sacrifices, to take less sugar and tea, to buy fewer suits or shirts, even to the point of depriving their families of things they need, in order to win the war, why should they be confronted with a figure such as $250,000,000, advertising these scandalous conditions in the midst of the war? I wholly agree with the remarks of the leader of the opposition.
I agree in large measure with what the leader of the opposition has said. No doubt far too much drinking of alcoholic liquors is going on at this time, and too great a part of our effort is diverted to the manufacture of them. How this can be avoided, however, it is difficult for me to understand. I do not believe any of us would want to go back to the days of prohibition. The hon. member for [DOT]Quebec West and South, who immediately preceded me, suggested that we should again have prohibition or should put liquor practically on a prohibitory basis. It is my conviction that the Ontario Temperance Act, which was in effect in Ontario about a decade ago, did more to bring about intemperance and excessive drinking than any measure which was ever placed on the statute book of that province. Hon. members from Ontario will remember that although there was supposed to be prohibition, in almost every centre were numerous places where people could obtain liquor illicitly; also numbers of persons persisted in carrying around liquor in their pockets. Prior to that time, when I was a young man, I would never think of going to a dance with liquor on me; none of the young men of my day would have done so. But when the Ontario Temperance Act came into effect, I noticed that practically all the young men, and, I am sorry to say, many young women, carried liquor with them. We do not want that condition to arise again in Ontario or any part of Canada.
I believe we are all in accord with the curtailment of the sale of intoxicating liquors if it is possible to do so, but I would remind the Minister of Finance that it is not going to be an easy matter. He may increase the tax, he may cut down the sales, but if at the *same time bootleggers flourish and the illicit sale of liquor continues or increases, his efforts will be of no avail. No doubt something should be done, but let us not act without giving the matter most careful consideration, to make sure that we do not have another era of illicit liquor-selling in this country.
My only criticism is that the tax on hard liquor is not high enough. You cannot make men sober by legislation. I have had a good deal of experience in trying to sober up men when they had gone the limit. You have a better chance of sobering men with strong coffee than you have with legislation against the liquor business. A change of heart is needed. I have no patience with those who think that the dominion and provincial governments can legislate the liquor business out of existence; they cannot do it. I should like to know whether this legislation is in any way related to the discovery of an illicit still in the province of Quebec. It is evident the police are on the job and are going to back up the minister's policy.
to me as the ground for the increase in the sale of liquor in the country is the fact that the income of the Canadian people has increased so tremendously. It does appear to me that the mere putting on of 50 or 60 cents for an imperial quart of some kind of liquor will not in itself have the effect of prohibiting the sale of that liquor. I presume the reason the minister has put this tax on is that he sees in it another fairly easy way of increasing the revenues of the country, and also of cutting down generally the purchasing power that is available for other consumer goods. When the statement is made that there is too great a diversion of man-power and materials towards the production of liquor and away from the war effort, the minister might put figures on Hansard, if they are available, as to the total amount spent in Canada on liquor of all kinds, and the total amount of taxes obtained by the dominion government last year-he has given an indication as to what the increase in revenues will be-so that we can arrive at the net amount that is being paid to the producers of these commodities, and thus interpret the amount of labour that is being used and possibly obtain some understanding of the quantity of materials used, and so on.
I suggest that there should also be something in the way of a time limit.
I am well aware of the anxiety of the minister to do his best, but I am aware also
that the people of Ontario are heartily sick of this business. I do not agiee with those
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who have said that drinking was worse during prohibition. I spend a good deal of my time among the rougher element, and I have seen more drunks recently than I did in prohibition days. One hon. gentleman suggested that something should be done, but ended up by saying that nothing should be done. We have reached the stage now where action should be taken. We have come to the pass where there should be some curtailment in time, and the matter should be talked over with the provincial governments. Surely we do not think that the ladies' beer parlours are something that we should be proud of. How would any hon. member like to see his daughter or sister coming out of a ladies' beer parlour, swinging along? Spend some of your time there some time, as I do occasionally. I often drop in on my way home from this house, and I see entertaining times there. I read character in faces, and while there are some Scotch among them, they are not all Scotch. Beer has a more degrading element in it than real whisky. If you want to know that, consider the different races that swing to beer and those that swing to whisky.
What the aviator drinks after ten o'clock is so many headaches; what he drinks before that may be a little entertainment and amusement. Let him drink his beer as he likes until ten o'clock, but when men reach the headache stage they should quit, so that they can get up next morning with a clear head. When you come to the headache stage, then I think there should be a time limit. The Prime Minister is noted as a splendid man for timing; even in elections he does well, and he would know the time. I do not know whether his experience in liquor is as good as yours and mine, but I suggest that there should be a time limit when men should stop drinking at night if they do not want a headache next morning.
I am a coroner, and I have had to deal with a good many accidents on the road. Often when a man is killed in the county of Wellington and I am called in as coroner, I have had to do some desperate lying-my hon. friend does not have to do that because he is a lawyer. I have sent home word to many a father that a boy had died from heart failure when I knew it was booze. It was the next thing to a sworn declaration, and I made a notorious liar of myself. I am not giving a temperance lecture, but I do suggest that there should be consultation with the provincial governments, because they are charged
with the responsibility of regulating the traffic. There should be some regulation, some curtailment in time, especially among the aviators, and I would be delighted to see the ladies' beer parlours closed. It would be a good thing to see them done away with.
When the war appropriation bill was before the house I spoke at length on this important national question. The large number of letters I have received would indicate that this is a subject that is causing a good deal of anxiety in the homes of the Canadian people.
June 1. The comments made by hon. members this afternoon also show that this is a subject that should receive more consideration from the government than it has received so far. After speaking on June 1, I received some criticism from certain quarters for suggesting that we should not send beer to the troops in Libya and other battle fronts. I never made such a suggestion. I would not for a moment suggest that those on the battle fronts should be denied the right to have refreshments at their bases. But I do think it is unfortunate that the policy of sending liquid refreshments should be decided by a man who is engaged in the brewing business, and that large quantities are sent when space is needed for more essential material.
Well, he had nothing to say about that, so far as I know. This beer for Africa was purchased by an agency of the British government and taken by the British government. The only thing the Canadian government could have done would have been to protest, and we did not think we were justified in doing that.
The information I had was that Mr. Taylor is vice-chairman of this allied shipping council, and he decides how the space shall be used, whether for Bren guns or tanks or beer. The decision was that it should be used for beer, and I was informed that large quantities did move to Libya.
That may be so; I do not know. I was simply speaking on behalf of the Canadian government. I do not know what agents of the United Kingdom government acted in the matter. Certainly Mr. Taylor did not take any steps as agent of the Canadian government.