July 12, 1946

SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON:

When are you coming back to Canada? [DOT]

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

You do not understand what he is saying.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Joseph-Omer Gour

Liberal

Mr. GOUR (Russell):

I will speak so that my hon. friends can understand.

Mr. Speaker, I must say again that our farmers are urgently in need of help from the federal government since we are not getting enough from the provincial government of Ontario, especially chemical fertilizer at better conditions, assistance in the draining of the lands, et cetera, in order to keep our farmers on the land and to encourage the veterans in settling on the land.

Good roads and electricity are also essential. The farmers cannot keep their sons on the farms, when it is a matter of seventy-five hours or more work per week, without offering them reasonable and necessary accommodations.

It is essential to the farmers, as well as to the workers, that a reasonable profit margin be established between production cost and sale price, the same as between the salary of the worker and the cost of living.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to state that the constituency of Russell has flourishing flax cooperatives. I would fail in my duty if I did not take a few minutes of the house's attention to congratulate the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). Is it not a fact that it is due to his unpreceeded ability that he provided ways and means of stimulating our farmers, who replied splendidly to his call and have multiplied several times our production from coast to coast. Thanks to them, we are now the country which provides the most food to the starving people throughout the entire world.

As a result of the laws which the Minister of Agriculture has had adopted and the bonuses which he gave the farmers in order to encourage them to better their products, to-day we are offering products which are superior to

those of every other country, and you will agree with me that this is all to the honour of Canada.

It is also due to his ability that our country and its products are better known and that we are getting more advantageous markets everywhere in the world.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have reasons to believe that we can never have a more qualified Minister of Agriculture. I sincerely wish that we shall be granted the envious privilege of keeping him in his present position for many years to come. The country is most fortunate in having such a competent minister at the head of this department. I would remind hon. members that if agriculture is not prosperous, Canada cannot be prosperous.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the minister for the precious help he has given all the cooperatives and flax industries which were of such great importance to our war effort. I feel certain that the flax industry will continue to render great service to our country provided that the government will continue to extend its assistance to its development until such a time when we shall have mills which will be providing work for thousands and thousands of workers.

I shall conclude by saying that we must thank Divine Providence for having given us such a glorious statesman at the head of our country, the most qualified man in all the world to-day, our Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King).

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. A. M. NICHOLSON (Mackenzie):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to join with hon. members in congratulating the Right Hon Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) upon having been selected to go to Geneva on an important mission for his country. I am sure people in all parts of the country will hope that the ocean voyage will improve his health and that in the near future he will come back in the best of condition. During the war I participated on many occasions in victory loan campaigns in my constituency. I always made it clear that while the C.C.F. did not have a mandate to conduct the financial programme of Canada, being a democrat I accepted the verdict of the majority. I told my constituents that I thought we were fortunate in having as Minister of Finance one who would not use his high office to improve his own personal position. I told them that if waste or inefficiency existed in government, those conditions did not prevail with the knowledge or the approval of the minister. I am sure that those factors had a great bearing upon making it possible for Canada to achieve such an impressive war effort.

The Budget-Mr. Nicholson

During the war I felt that there were criticisms that should be made, and I made them from time to time. I think this peacetime budget deserves criticism and, before I conclude, I shall have something critical to say about it. After having listened to the Progressive Conservative members who have participated in the debate, I began to feel that there could have been a worse budget. When the financial critic for the Progressive Conservatives spoke after the minister had brought down his budget on June 27 he emphasized the word "economy", "economy", "economy". I submit that we could save quite a few million dollars in Canada but still could not improve materially the lot of the people. The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell) took us back a long time in his speech. As reported on page 3222 of Hansard, he took us back to the seventeenth century when he said:

As I understand it, democracy as we have it really takes its roots from seventeenth century England, and if there ever was a place where they believed that people should try to look after themselves and have a sense of responsibility, it was seventeenth century Puritan England.

It is quite a long time since I have read about the seventeenth century. The remarks of my hon. friend created an interest in that period of history, and so I turned to Trevelyan's "English Social History". While the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario might like to live in Puritan England of the seventeenth century I prefer Canada of the twentieth. The period of Puritan England to which he referred was still 100 years before the industrial revolution. It was a time when the development of the coal mining industry forced the working of women and children, who were compelled to toil long hours underground. The hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) has told us about conditions of the mines in the twentieth century, but conditions were much worse in the seventeenth. Hon. members may be interested to know something of what was done for the aged in the time of Puritan England. As a result of forty-five years of faithful service in the compiling of chronicles, James I awarded John Stowe of the city of London, in the year 1603, a licence to beg. John Stowe was given a royal licence to beg! Then there is an interesting statistical compilation here, Gregory King's Tables. I shall refer to it later when dealing with the budget of the Minister of Finance, to indicate that in some particulars we have not gone very far from the conditions that prevailed in the seventeenth century.

I would remind the house that there was a period, within the memory of most of us, when we did practise the word "economy" about which we have heard so often. From 1930 to 1935 we had a government here-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

No, we had not.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

-that had some of the stalwarts who are still in the house, and they did practise economy in those days. Let us see what the economy was. The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario complained much about expenditures in connection with the civil service, but he has not made many concrete suggestions as to how the expenses can be cut down. His government, from 1930 to 1935, did indicate one means by which this result could be effected, for they slashed the salaries of civil servants ten per cent all across the board. Those receiving higher salaries had a ten per cent cut, and those who received $60, $70 and $80 a month had the axe applied equally to them, for they, too, had a ten per cent reduction.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

And members of parliament and senators too.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

We find that certain relief settlement plans were drawn up, because an act was passed in 1932 whereby agreements were made with all the provinces, except Prince Edward Island, providing for nonreconvertible expenditures of one-third of the amount, not to exceed $600 per family, for the purpose of providing a measure of selfsustaining relief to families who otherwise would be in receipt of material aid, by placing such families on the land. Those were the days when my hon. friends practised economy. They said!, "It is far cheaper to keep unfortunate people, who cannot find jobs, on the land. Give them 160 acres of bushland for $10 and make available to them the sum of $600 and they will no longer be a charge on the rest of society." That is not so long ago. That was in 1932.

Hon. members who have lived in other parts of Canada will have some difficulty in picturing what is involved when you leave a city like Regina or Moose Jaw or Saskatoon under the assistance of the federal government, the provincial government and the municipality and try to become self-supporting on $600. I happen to have returns for some of the veterans of world war I of 1914-18.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Were you one?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SKEY:

On a point of order, may I ask whether the hon. gentleman is opposing the budget of 1932 or the budget of 1946?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I am making my position clear, that the people who now talk about economy had a chance of practising it at that time, and they did not improve to any extent the lot of the majority of the Canadian people.

To continue, there is an item on January 12, C.N.R. freight, amounting to $43.95. Then, on June 8, 1933, they bought a black gelding, the other team having died, and this single horse cost them $50.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Too much for a C.C.F. horse.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Then we find in 1933 sealers and sugar, $10.75. On February 2, 1934, there was an item of thirty bushels of oats for $8.30. The election was coming on and allowances then went up, because the

family that had been expected to get along on $10 now received $18.20. That was for eight people. By the 20th February, 1934, they had exhausted their $600. But, of course, they were not self-supporting and assistance was continued.

I am speaking about Saskatchewan, but I would remind the house that the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) was premier of Manitoba, the adjoining province, and they also participated in that sort of programme. They settled quite a large number of persons and at the same time carried out a programme to settle boys on farms at $5 a month, and if they continued on long enough there was a subsidy of $2.50 a month.

I do not wish to excuse the present government. I notice the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) is smiling, and I would remind him that in 1940, after we had been at war for some time, there were still several thousand young men working on farms drawing benefits of $5 a month.

I submit that the solution of the economic problems that confront the Canadian people will not be found by going back to the seventeenth century or to the thirties of the twentieth century, when we pared down allowances to veterans of the war who had committed no offence but were unfortunate enough to be carpenters, tinsmiths or plumbers who could not find jobs at any wage in the cities. It was costing a good deal to keep them on relief. It cost $70 a month to keep them on relief in Regina, and the Conservative government at Ottawa felt that if they got these people into the bush they could cut down the provincial and federal expenses and balance budgets. But the real costs will never be known-the toll of suffering in the way of undernourished children, broken-hearted mothers and fathers, and youngsters who, year after year, were denied the privilege of going to school. I would like hon. members to bear in mind that this is within the memory of all of us here. Those terrible years we had in Canada, when we could not provide a decent standard of living for the people, can be recollected by all of us.

During the war the Minister of Finance did some things that deserve commendation. He pursued a policy which proceeded on the basis that anything which was physically possible somehow or another would be made financially possible. If we needed ships, tanks, guns or materials of any kind, the question was, not how much money we had in the banks, or how much was in our gold reserves, but had we the raw materials; had we the man-power? Was it part of an over-all plan which would enable Canada to make her

The Budget-Mr. Nicholson

greatest contribution for the purpose of winning the war? During the war years Canada set high standards. We had more than a million of our young men and women in uniform. We gave large contributions to the united nations, and we kept for ourselves more of nearly every item of food than we ever had before in the history of the country. Is there not something radically wrong with an economic system which gives the people their highest standard of living during two wars, the war of 1914-18 and the war of 1939-45?

The performance of the Minister of Finance during the war should indicate that if he wishes he can organize our fiscal policy so that we can have full employment and rising standards of living in peace time. I wish to point out that the greatest waste in our time or in any country's time is the waste which takes place when able-bodied men are denied the chance to do useful work, and when machines remain idle when there are neecis which must be filled.

When these settlers were going to the north country the sawmills in the midst of the bush were closed and the settlers could not get lumber to finish their houses because, we were told, we had no money in Canada. Under the pressure of war we found that if we needed lumber, mills were operated and those who worked in the mills deserved reasonable standards of living.

I come now to a criticism of the budget. The amendment moved by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) sets out the fundamental criticisms of the budget. I should like to confine my criticism chiefly to the points raised last night by my deskmate, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles). The budget does not provide for the tax reductions in the calendar year 1946 by raising sufficiently the exemptions of those in the lower income brackets. In discussing the budget on June 27 the minister said, and correctly, as reported at page 2915 of Hansard:

Secondly, we are all, I believe, agreed that the income tax is the fairest and best tax on which to rely for the bulk of our revenue. More than any other, it takes ability to pay properly into account. We must, I consider, rely upon it as heavily as we can, subject to the limits imposed by its effects on incentive and efficiency.

My quarrel with the minister all during the war was that he was too cautious, that he paid too much attention to the people in the higher income brackets, who are few in number but apparently quite powerful.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Is eighty-five per cent not high enough for these fellows?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

No, I think not, as I shall show a little later on.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

It was ninety-two per cent at one time.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

The important consideration is, how much is left when the Minister of Finance takes away eighty-five per cent? My figures will indicate that the fifteen per cent which is left is more than adequate.

Let us go back to the seventeenth century in wthioh the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario would like to live. We find a division of income at that time similar to what we have now. We start with the labouring people. There were apparently about 364,000 in this category. For my purpose I am taking the pound at $5. These 364,000 labouring people had an annual income of $75. The next class was common seamen; there were 50,000 of them and they received $100 a year.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENRAKER:

What year was

that?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

That was back in 1688, in the seventeenth century. The farmers then as now were getting pretty rough treatment. There were 150,000 farmers who received an annual income of $212. Shopkeepers and tradesmen, of whom there were 50,000, received an annual income of $225. Then we come to the lesser clergymen, of whom there were 8,000-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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July 12, 1946