June 28, 1948

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

-whose effect is only to a certain extent appreciable. He repeats his statement about taxes and so on. He is again saying, in a way that perhaps he does not realize, that if you expand the purchasing power of the nation without any regard to the availability of goods and services, you will cause a reduction in the level of prices.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I said exactly the

opposite.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

I am not talking now about the general price level. My hon. friend knows perfectly well that the relationship between a high tax level and purchasing power is such as not to require further comment from me.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

You have made that as clear as mud.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

I cannot furnish the hon. gentleman with understanding. The whole argument of the leader of the opposition tonight was based upon the supposed fact that we were perhaps the only country in the world with no trading relationships with other countries. He forgets that the national income of Canada is to the extent of thirty-five per cent dependent upon our ability to sell goods to other countries. He neglected to make any reference to our economic interdependence with other countries. He might have compared us with countries with an economy comparable to our own, such as the United States, for example. He might have given to this house the cost of living in the United States as compared with Canada; but, since he has not done so, I will give him figures which I believe are revealing, because the United States economy and our own lend themselves to a comparison.

The total cost of living index from April 1 to May 1 in Canada was 152-5 and in the United States 169-3. Let us analyse those figures in terms of those factors which contribute to the cost of living.

The index for foods in Canada stood at 189-0, and in the United States, 207-9; rentals in Canada, 120-4, and in the United States, 116-3; fuel and light in Canada, 122-0; and in the United States, 130-7; clothing in Canada, 173-3, and in the United States, 196-4; home furnishings in Canada, 161-9, and in the United States, 194-7; miscellaneous in Canada, 122-9, and in the United States, 147-8. Let me repeat that the total cost of living index in Canada for the period mentioned is 152-5 and, in the United States, 169-3.

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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

Now compare the taxation in the two countries.

Report of Prices Committee

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Assuming that the taxes in Canada were higher, and that is not the case-

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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

It is the case.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

-on the basis of the argument of the leader of the opposition, our cost of living figures are low. Surely that, put alongside the main part of his argument tonight, reveals its inadequacy and how little it contributes to a solution of this problem.

My hon. friend likewise forgot that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) did take certain steps to reduce taxation. He took the sales tax off electricity used for domestic purposes; the duty was taken off tea and coffee, and recently the sales tax was removed from canned foods.

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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

What a tremendous concession to give to the people of this country!

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

He forgot to mention that.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I stated that in my remarks.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Then I did not get it. If the hon. member did state it I am emphasizing it once more. What my hon. friend did not do, however, was to mention something that he continually forgets, for I have noted some of the speeches he has made in advocating social security measures. In one breath he will say that we must cut taxes, and in the next he outlines a program of promises that is exceeded by no other politician in this country. He has neglected to indicate that one of the reasons for the high tax level in this country is the social services that are being given to our people. He forgets to mention the sums of money spent on old age pensions. He forgets to mention the amount of money spent, and properly so, in connection with the veterans charter. He forgets to mention the $267 million that we are spending on family allowances this year alone, bringing assistance each month to three and a half million children, representing one and a half million families. He forgets to mention that the government is bringing in a program of national health that will cost this country in one year a sum of money greater than what has been spent on health by the federal government in the past twenty-seven years.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Shame on this government which has been in power all that time.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

That surely puts in proper perspective the argument offered by the leader of the opposition tonight. But assuming that he was right; does he still believe that the conclusions put forward by the committee are conclusions which, while their generality is admitted, should not be supported?

[Mr. Homuth.J

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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

The committee's conclusions-

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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order. If hon. members desire to put questions and the minister is agreeable to answering them, they may be put, but other interruptions are out of order.

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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMLTTH:

The minister should not be allowed to get away with assertions which are not in accordance with the facts. He said the conclusions put forward by the committee-

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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Order.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Two hon. gentlemen spoke from the C.C.F. group this afternoon, and one of them gave me the impression that he was not going to share the view which had been given to the house by the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Irvine), by the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) and others. Because he is not in the house tonight, I want to quote a statement which appears in Saturday's Windsor Star, attributed to the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Thatcher), to indicate how I think the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Young) should unhesitatingly vote on this resolution. I refer to the hon. member for Moose Jaw, who is not in his seat. He had to be out of town tonight, and on that account could not, as a member of the committee, give his view with regard to the committee's deliberations, and I read to the house a statement of the hon. member for Moose Jaw, as follows:

W. Ross Thatcher, C.C.F., Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, found himself in a position yesterday in which he felt it necessary to make a statement with regard to the prices committee report.

A member of the Martin committee on prices, Mr. Thatcher was one of many who thought the committee report would be a device to whitewash the government. For the past four days he had been preparing a minority report against what he thought would be the findings and recommendations. Then he found out he wouldn't have an opportunity to present his minority report in the Commons, so he re-wrote it as a speech.

When the prices committee was going over the final draft of the report tabled yesterday in the house by the chairman, Hon. Paul Martin, Mr. Thatcher remained in his own office to put the finishing touches on the speech he intended to deliver in the Commons today.

Then word came to him of the 14 recommendations. His C.C.F. colleague on the committee, William Irvine, Cariboo, B.C., told him he had voted for the report.

"So would I if I had been there", Mr. Thatcher told the Star. It's a good report, and immediately I telephoned Paul Martin to tell him so. Moreover, I pitched my speech manuscript into the wastepaper basket.

Report of Prices Committee

That was a frank statement from a member of the committee who had sat throughout its deliberations and who had made a contribution to the committee's work. Looking at the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) and the hon. member for Yancouver-Burrard (Mr. Merritt), who sat on that committee for four months, and who know of the evidence, I ask them to reconsider their position in the light of these conclusions. What are these conclusions? The first one recommends something which the hon. member for Eglinton recommended in this house last February. He said we should not have a parliamentary committee; what we should have is a commission of inquiry established, and let it do the job. Here we come along and recommend in conclusion 1:

That the government consider the immediate appointment of a commission under the Public Inquiries Act.

Did the hon. member for Eglinton support that conclusion in the committee? No. As the only member of his party present, he voted against the conclusion.

Take the second conclusion: the committee felt that while the combines investigation commission is doing a great job, his work could be accelerated and extended. Does the hon. member for Eglinton, does the leader of the opposition, sitting in this house, not agree with that conclusion? Does he think the combines commissioner should carry on just in the efficient way in which he is doing now and not have his work extended?

With regard to conclusion 3:

That the government amend the regulations of the appropriate legislation, if that be found necessary, so that immediate specific action can be taken where the evidence discloses flagrant cases of profiteering at the consumer's expense.

Does the leader of the opposition think that should not be done? In these cases where we know of unreasonable and excessive profit having an effect on price reduction, does he think we should do nothing about it? If my hon. friend refuses to vote for that conclusion there is no interpretation that we can place upon his act other than that he is against this recommendation.

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June 28, 1948