Mr. DANIEL McIVOR (Fort William):
I wish to give, for the use of the minister and his committee when they get down to work, a few facts about the head of the lakes which I think they should have and which may be helpful in the reconstruction period.
The first fact is that at the head of the lakes we have hundreds of square miles of virgin timber, good for lumber, firewood, pulp and shipbuilding. I found out the other day that we have in the Thunder bay district the western white spruce picea glauca. Its existence there was not known until recently, because nobody had explored the full extent of our timber. A tree is of little value until it is cut down. I have not very much patience with those who want to revert to such primitive processes as the burning of peat, when we have all kinds of good coal and wood. So that the first point which should be borne in mind by the committee is that we have timber in abundance.
In the second place we are rich in mines. We have gold, silver, copper, zinc, chromium, and also iron in abundance, ready to be mined and put on the market. If the Department of Mines and Resources can make money out of the socialization of their muskrats, they can turn loose some of their experts in the Thunder bay district, and soon the rest of Canada will hum as a result of what we have in that section.
Remember also that we have an excellent harbour. It is well protected; it is needed for shipbuilding; when the minister and nis committee make as an outstanding factor in reconstruction the development of the St. Lawrence waterway, the dream of so many people at the head of the lakes will come true, and the head of the lakes will become the Chicago of the west. We shall have there a great distributing centre, which will mean much to the whole of Canada.
But the best thing to be found at the head of the lakes, and something which is perhaps
not very well known, is our farming area. Some people think we have no farms, and thereby show their lack of knowledge. We have in the Port Arthur and Fort William districts 25,000 acres of farm land, of which 12,784 acres are assessed. This is a greater area than will be found round the city of Hamilton, which has only 9,694 acres, or Windsor, with 8,251 acres, or Sudbury, with 1,522 acres; and anyone who has gone through these districts and knows anything about soils and what they can produce will admit that ours is the coming farming district, not even second to Manitoba.
What are these farms capable of producing? All kinds of grain, apples and other fruits; in fact the best strawberries with the finest flavour of which I have any knowledge are grown in our district. This is on account of the cool atmosphere during the summer; they are not subject to frost as in some other places. The climate is damp and cool in summer because of our proximity to a great cold freshwater lake. This, too, is favourable to the growth of abundant grass, and the lakehead during the past years has become a feeding centre for fat cattle. The soil has been tested by the chamber of commerce and by our experts at the experimental farm substation, and has been found to be capable of producing sugar beet of a very high grade.
Our district is also distinguished by its ability to produce poultry and eggs. There are those who say that our hens can lay more and bigger eggs than any others. The climate is cool and the hens do not have to sweat at their job to the same extent as elsewhere. During the past week our poultry association passed a resolution asking that eggs from the head of the lakes be marked accordingly to show that they are better eggs and have more flavour.
We are also known for our fisheries. Lake Superior trout is known all over Canada and in some places in the United States. The only trouble is that there is not enough to go around. Fresh herring is just beginning to come into its own.
The municipal air field was taken over by the Department of National Defence when the war broke out. Originally this field was intended to be on a feeder line to the Trans-Canada Air Lines but it will now be on the Trans-Canada Air Lines when the war is over.
We have power at the head of the lakes. We do not have to depend upon Niagara falls because we have the Cameron falls ninety miles from Fort William. We also have the Ivakabeka falls which are known for their beauty and usefulness. We have a water system second to none. Loch Lomond is
situated 400 feet above the level of the lake. All that needed to be done was to put in a pipe and the water flowed down sweet and clean. In order to have the right type of development, we must have the right kind of laws. We must have progressive laws. There are men and women who want to use the talents that God has given to them and not hide them under the earth.
This committee should see to it that the right of free enterprise and the right of the worker to cooperate are continued. I have a legal adviser who sometimes comes to my room to give me some free advice. His advice is good, and he says that it would be a good thing if we could look down at the world from above, see ourselves as the good Lord sees us. That of course caused my mind to go back into the realm of the queen of sciences, namely, theology. There are two phases that are used a good deal in connection with the new social order. One is, "the banishment of fear" and the other is, "the banishment of poverty." I think of fear as one of the great blessings of mankind. There are men in this house who are afraid of their own conduct, afraid of their own speeches. Fear is often protective. It is a blessing to us from the time we first got burned by touching something we should not have touched.
There are those who will say that we should banish fear, but there is only one way to cure fear. Work cannot cure fear. Success is no cure for fear. Quite often the man who has the most money has the greatest fear that he will lose it or that someone will get the better of a deal with him. The only cure for fear must come from that great Teacher, who said:
But perfect love casteth out fear.
If you have not love of the right thing, then you are not going to get rid of fear. Poverty is a relative term. There are people on relief in Ottawa who in the days of King Tut would have been considered as living most luxuriously. But there will always be people at the bottom of the human way of living, people who will be called poor. Again I hear the Master Workman coming out with this clear statement:
For ye have the poor always with you.
He was one to whom the future was an open book.
This committee should obtain brief statements from the different reconstruction committees which have been set up across Canada. I can give the name of Alderman Fryer, who is head of our committee, to the minister. I am sure that Alderman Fryer will be able to provide some useful information because
at the head of the lakes we have resources which, if put to proper use, would be a blessing to mankind.
Mr. WILFRID LaCROIX (Quebec-Mont-morency.) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, I wish to take advantage of this debate on post-war problems to voice my views and those of my electors on the financial burden which is being laid upon the wage-earners of this country and the effects of which will necessarily be felt after the war.
In this connection I desire to offer to the government a suggestion for the better apportionment of the taxes necessitated by our participation in the present world war, a participation which takes into account neither our population nor the limit of our possibilities. I feel that in the financing of our war effort, capital should be called upon to supply a substantial share of the required funds. Since the outbreak of this war, many wealthy people in this country have undoubtedly invested their money in securities or real estate so as to put their Capital outside the reach of the government.
In many cases, such investments produce no income, but the capital is protected for the future. The men who risk their lives on land, at sea and in the air are also fighting for the protection of those investors' property.
Here is what I would suggest for compelling those people to assume a greater share of our war effort. The government should decide to force them to lend the money needed by this country, even though they might say that they have none available. The government might thus say to those investors: "You own securities or real estate unmortgaged in a definite proportion. An act of parliament will compel you to file an application with the Bank of Canada, which will lend you the funds needed by the government for the war effort." They would give to the Bank of Canada, or to the latter's agents, a mortgage on their securities or real estate, and would file with those banks guarantees for the amount loaned, and they would lend to the dominion government the money thus obtained from the bank. In return they would receive a dominion bond which would be deposited with the Bank of Canada or its agents. After the war, the dominion government would, at a certain date fixed by them according to the development, the resources and the income of the country, say within about thirty years, redeem those bonds, the holders then paying back the banks.
Such a plan would enable the government to obtain billions of dollars for our war effort.
In order to protect modest fortunes, which will never be too numerous in this country since they ensure a better distribution of public wealth, only the owners of securities or real estate worth more than $25,000 would be called upon to lend money to the government according to the above plan.
The plan would not apply to properties used for religious, charitable or educational or hospitalization purposes. I may point out, Mr. Speaker, that this plan would not mean confiscation. For our war expenditures of 1943, 10 per cent of the value of all securities or real estate in Canada could be loaned, and should the war be still going on in 1944, another loan of 10 per cent might be required. Through such a plan the government could considerably reduce the income tax now being paid by the people in the lower and medium salary brackets, because the latter have no capital other than their salary, and it would enable us to honour their obligations, which they cannot do at the present time.
It should not be forgotten that the greater part of the revenue derived by the Canadian government from income tax is levied on the lower or medium salary brackets, as few people draw large salaries and the income tax on salaries is much higher here than in the United States. To my mind, it is not fair that a single generation should have to pay the whole cost of this war, because the benefits of peace will be enjoyed as much by future generations as by ourselves.
Our soldiers make great sacrifices and wealthy people have no right to elude the financial sacrifices that are necessary. The guarantee they would receive from the government is certainly greater than that given to the army as regards the opportunity of finding employment after the war. Such a plan would make billions of dollars available to the dominion treasury. One can imagine the meaning of a 10 per cent levy on all securities or real estate in Canada. One cause for strikes lies in the fact that so much money is now taken from the small wage earners because they find it difficult to make both ends meet and to cope with the cost of living, which notwithstanding what is said, shows a considerable increase.
Moreover, the banks would not take the slightest risk for it must not be forgotten that they have lent up to 75 per cent of the value of stock exchange securities which were certainly not worth as much as the guarantees to which I am referring.
To-day, Mr. Speaker, capitalists take advantage of the difficulties which beset the small land owner, to confiscate his properties. Here is an example. Lieutenant-Colonel Jack
Price, of Quebec, has been a prisoner of war in Japan since the fall of Hong Kong. He was the owner of a property that cost him $75,000. His wife had to sell it for the amount of the mortgage, $13,000, because she did not have the money necessary to meet her obligations. So, while some of our men are making the supreme sacrifice on the battlefields of Africa, Europe or Asia, these greedy capitalists take advantage of this fact to confiscate properties, even though they be non-revenue bearing, so that, after the war, their capital will remain intact even if our dollar becomes devalorized. Every one knows, of course, that in the event of such a devalorization, the price of commodities and properties would increase in proportion to the decrease in value of the dollar. Mr. Speaker, I point out to the government that they are at present discriminating against the great majority of wage-earners. They force them to loan part of their salary without interest, while the capitalists who subscribe to a loan make sure that they will draw interest on their investment.
Often, the capitalist's subscription to a Victory Loan is nothing but a publicity stunt; as soon as the contribution has been publicly announced, he repairs to the bank to sell his bonds and buy more and more property. At the present time we are witnessing the monopolizing of real estate by the trusts and, at the close of hostilities, we shall be a country of unevenly distributed wealth, a condition favourable to the development of subversive ideas inviting communism.
It may be claimed that a reduction of taxes on salaries might very well provoke inflation, by virtue of the consequent increase in the purchasing power of the public. My answer is that the government has the necessary means of preventing this increased purchasing power. Indeed, they have, at the present time, let us not forget it, all the necessary power to control both prices and wages and the additional power to freeze at the 1942 level all production deemed as non-essential to the war effort, thereby preventing the purchasing power from exceeding that of 1942. The government is empowered to set a ceiling at the 1942 level, on the amount of goods obtainable by both retailers and wholesalers, at the same time preventing the consumer from buying more than he could buy in 1942. Thus, no increase in the purchasing power could provoke inflation by an increased demand for goods as a consequence of an increased supply of money. The exercise of the above powers by the government would necessarily compel the wage-earner to save money for the postwar period, for, let us not forget it, after the
war, this class will not have the same opportunities as the capitalists, their only capital, in most cases, being their salary.
The adoption of such a policy will prevent the worker from becoming a public liability. It is imperative, by a reduction of taxes on the small and medium salaries, to compel their recipients to accumulate savings for the post-war period and thus lighten the burden of the administration when the time comes for them to face this problem. The harder the wage-earner finds it to spend his earnings the lighter will be the burden of the government after the war.
We must not overlook the fact that, for 25 years, the capitalist has been in the position of increasing his holdings, because our soldiers gave their lives for him from 1914 to 1918, and that, in the course of most of these 25 years, the workers and a considerable proportion of the wage-earners have been unemployed, through the depression which we all remember, and that, only since the beginning of the war have they been able to afford the luxury of life insurance to protect their families and insure some degree of future social security for their children.
I have discussed this plan with a number of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and some have suggested that, by striking at capital I would alienate the Anglo-Canadian element of the population for, they said, they own most of the capital, the French Canadians making up the greater portion of the wage-earning class of our country.
My answer to them, Mr. Speaker, is that we, French Canadians, are not to blame for the fact that a certain group of Englishspeaking Canadians, especially those known as the "Two Hundred," in Toronto, have raised imperialism to the dignity of a dogma It is much more important that the same fair treatment be meted out to every one and the financial burden of the war be evenly distributed. Furthermore, let those who subscribe to the dogma of imperialism pay for the expensive consequences of their opinions to the benefit of the large class of wage-earners.
I know that, at the present time, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) is seriously considering this plan. Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to express the fond hope that it will be implemented, for we must remember that our professional and labouring classes are the main props of our nation and that their whole capital is the salary they draw every week or every month.
Subtopic: POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION APPOINTMENT OP SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON RECONSTRUCTION AND REESTABLISHMENT