several parts of the Old Age Pensions Act. Then under question 23 there is a question about money loaned or held in trust for the applicant or spouse, and the name and address must be stated. Then they have to give the value of any livestock. They have to declare any securities owned by the applicant or by the spouse, and interest in business or venture of any kind owned by the applicant or by the spouse. Particulars have to be stated as to other properties owned by the applicant or owned by the spouse. In answer to question 24 the applicant and the spouse have to state whether they transferred any personal property exceeding a total value of $500, or any real property, to any person or persons within the five years preceding the date of the application. Then particulars of real property transferred must be shown, including the name and address of the person to whom the transfer was made, and the relationship, if any, the date of the transfer, and the amount still due. Then they have to show the names of all living sons and daughters and the amount contributed by each for the maintenance of the applicant or spouse during the past year. Here you have to give the names of the sons and daughters, their age and occupation, whether the son or daughter is married or single, the number of children the son or daughter has, the income of the son or daughter during the past year, the amount contributed by the son or daughter, and whether the son or daughter is living with the applicant. Then the applicant signs the form. These are the questions asked by the department of public welfare.
The Address-Mr. Henderson
Under form 4, the Old Age Pensions Act, 1948, the applicant must consent to inspection of assets. The form reads:
I an applicant for a pension under
the Old Age Pensions Act, 1948, consent that the investigator under the act inspect and have access to any account held by me alone or jointly, in any bank, trust company or other financial institution or to any assets held in trust for me by any person or any records relating to any of them.
The applicant must give the right to the inspector under the act to go to any bank and inspect the amount that the applicant may have there, if he has anything. In a good many cases they have not.
I am sure we are all pleased with the new set-up, announced last week by the provincial treasurer, whereby a long-required need has at last been budgeted for. That need is for homes for the aged and the maintenance of them. It is a new step, and it is going to fulfil a long-felt need. It is a step in the right direction, if ever one was taken, whereby the province will pay fifty per cent of the cost of building such homes, and fifty per cent of the cost of maintaining them. They are not to be established indiscriminately here and there, but in every municipality in the province of Ontario. At the present time we have such homes in my town of Petrolia. I can recall four homes which private persons have established in my county for taking in old age pensioners. They have what they call mass feeding and mass production. I know that in one home in my town the charge is $38 a month. Some of them charge $30 and others $40 and $45 a month. The pension of $30 a month is augmented by a grant from the local township council or from the county council.
Ontario has ever been in the lead in social legislation. Just as our workmen's compensation act has been a model for others to follow, so also will this newer and modernistic social service of providing homes in every municipality head the list; and it will no doubt be taken up and followed by our sister provinces to the betterment of the welfare of our older citizens who are so deserving of this grateful treatment we have in store for them. I hope when these homes are established we shall give them a name befitting the purpose for which they are intended, and not call them by some name that is derogatory to our good intentions. We have spoiled the purpose of some of our good institutions by an ill-fitting name. For instance, our first social need was in the form of an institution called the poor house. I can recall the revulsion of people to going to that place because for too long it was considered a disgrace to have to go to the poor house. We softened up a bit, and now we make it more acceptable by calling it the house of refuge,
The Address-Mr. Henderson Even with this name it is still associated with the poor-house idea, and creates an atmosphere of horror. First names create an idea that seem to stick down through the ages. As we are now launching on a new idea of social reform, let us give these newer institutions names befitting the purposes for which they are being created. I suggest that the Department of National Health and Welfare offer a suitable prize to the person suggesting the most applicable name, one that will never carry the stigma of public beneficence.
I believe these homes will fulfil a long-felt need; but I still have faith in the youth of our land, who soon will be our senior citizens, and believe that as time goes on they will provide their own social security by well-devised plans of their own, apart from government paternalism. The sooner this becomes an actuality, the stronger, the better and more virile our nation will become.
I find no fault with those who are up in years now, with their earning capacity gone, and who find themselves in want. They had no guidance given them in any of the ways the young and growing in our land have today. I refer to the many insurance plans, government annuities and other fields of investment that are both appealing and consistent. I do know that in the field of insurance a great majority of our youth are making plans for their future. Study the annual reports of our many insurance companies and a beautiful story will unfold, that of continued growth through over-all annual increases in insurance taken out.
My plan of thinking was changed considerably by an editorial which appeared in the London Free Press, which no doubt many hon. members have seen, dealing with this particular phase of social security. I should like to read just a paragraph or two:
In Canada where vast sums are to be spent by federal and provincial governments on various aspects of national health, state medicine is under brisk discussion by both doctors and laymen. The tremendous growth of the various voluntary insurance health schemes reflects the tendency of the times, also the frightening cost of hospitalization and adequate treatment . . .
The Canadian medical association has a continuing study under way. There has been a movement toward more or less local plans in each province and a tendency to deal with different aspects separately-hospitals, treatments, home services and so on. The energizing force behind all this "new look" in medicine is the universal demand by laymen for extended services at reduced costs, a necessity they intended to see met in one way or another.
At the present time we are all more or less insurance conscious. There is no trouble selling insurance now; as a matter of fact we actually go out and buy it. Our pioneer forefathers built up an estate by themselves in
the only way they could; that was by building a home of their own. Many of our youth are doing the same thing today, and they are also augmenting their future security by some form of life insurance. There is no difference in the targets if you decide to build, pay for and own a $10,000 home or business or if you decide to pay for and carry out the requirements of a $10,000 life insurance policy or government annuity. The end is social security, attained by a different route.
The tremendous growth of our many voluntary health schemes reflects the tendency of the times. Practically every earner has voluntarily come under some hospitalization plan at a low group insurance rate. In my locality the Blue Cross is very popular as a group plan, and as it is operating for service more than for profit, it is offering more and more by way of health benefits as time goes on. We also have some medical plans of insurance, such as the Windsor medical plan, where on payment of a small annual fee, free medical services can be secured. This is far removed from state medicine, and is voluntary on the part of our medical practitioners and those seeking the benefits such a plan can give.
On the whole, and being very optimistic as to the future, I can see a decrease in the social services required. It is true that they are very great at present, and probably will remain so for at least twenty years to come, during which time those reaching sixty-five or seventy years of age may have to be looked after. But I am very optimistic as to the future, because I believe that as time goes on these various forms of health insurance, social security and so on will enable our people to take better care of themselves. Given a chance, I am sure our future citizens will be able to take complete care of themselves in their advancing years, and that all they will ask of the government is good social guidance. Then we will have a Canada of which we can say we have pride in our past, belief in our present and faith in our future.
Well, Mr. Speaker, it is coming near the time when we must fill in these income tax forms. We have all been anxious to see the simplified forms promised us by the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann). Not long ago I secured mine, as many hon. members did, after that little trip we all make to the nice sunny room in the southwest corner of the basement floor. There we get two things, one very popular and the other not so welcome. Being a part-time farmer, I chose the form suitable for my situation. I have the agricultural application form in my hand, and must offer some plain, constructive criticism concerning it. This is the new form, which we were promised would be much shorter
than that of last year. I find that this year it is down to four pages for the farmer, and that it is quite a lot like a love story, only when all is said and done income tax is no love story. If you are in a hurry when reading a love story you generally look at the first chapter to find out all the particulars, who is in love with whom and what the particular hook-up may be. Then you turn to the last chapter, where you find that they have got married and are living happily.
So it is with this income tax form. There is nothing wrong with the first page; you list your name, occupation, and so on. Then pages 2 and 3 are full of things the farmer does not understand or know anything about. " Do not include the following exemptions," it says. "Your family allowance." That is all right; you do not include that. "Unemployment insurance benefits." Here the farmer begins to scratch his head. "Sickness and accident insurance benefits; workmen's compensation benefits; war disability pensions; non-taxable portion of pension or annuity income; war service gratuities; re-establishment credits; educational, vocational and technical training benefits received by discharged members of the forces or their dependents." I do not find fault with any of these items, but I do find fault with the way the whole thing is set up. You have to turn away over to the back page, where' in a small, cramped space you see the heading, " Income from farming or fishing." The only information the farmer needs for the calculation of his taxable return is found in a small, cramped position in the finest print on the very last page of the form. Of course, there is a little book sent out with these forms which the farmer reads. I know the attitude of the farmers towards this matter because when they get stuck they come to me for help. I give them a start on it and then they can go through the remainder of it. Here, we see a heading, "Crops and seeds." The farmer has to put a value on that. If he sells any of it, we know he has to put a value on it. At the very last we find the part of the form the farmer should make out first. When he starts to read the form and sees all this unnecessary stuff in between, be sees red, tears the form in two and throws it away.
I would recommend to the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) that the income statement on the farmer's income tax form be put on the first page. The income received from the farm could be shown on one side and the expenditures on the other side. If the remainder shows the farmer is in the red, he will not have to pay any income tax. I notice all these headings on the tax form are in red, so I presume the farmer is sup-
The Address-Mr. Lesage posed to be in the red. I believe if the minister took my advice the farmer would be happier about filling out these forms. I know that is a fact. In this regard I am like the apostle Paul; I can testify whereof I have seen. The farmers have told me about it. I hate to go home because the farmers come to my door with their income tax forms in their hands requesting my help.
Do not think the farmer is averse to making out his income tax form. The information requested of the farmer is beyond his capabilities. I do not mean to imply the farmer is not intelligent, but these forms are beyond his comprehension. We want the farmers to co-operate in this matter. The farmers are honest and honourable. They wish to pay their share, but these income tax forms are not helping the situation. I see that my time has expired, Mr. Speaker, but I want to thank you for listening to me so patiently.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, at the outset I wish to join those who have already spoken in congratulating warmly the mover of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, the hon. member for Essex West (Mr. Brown), and the seconder, the hon. member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Demers), on the excellence of their speeches.
I do not intend to make a long speech. I thought I might deal with a few subjects which are of special interest to those I represent in this house, the electors of the constituency of Montmagny-L'Islet.
My constituents form two main groups; on the one hand, the farmers and on the other the workers employed in industry, large or small. The industrial workers of my constituency are more prosperous than they have ever been up to now. The prosperity brought about by the last war has continued and they still benefit largely from it, although there are certain indications of a slight decrease in employment. I sincerely believe that this trend is only seasonal and the workers of my constituency may rest assured that the government of their country will do all in its power to ensure proper and stable employment, that they and their families may keep on enjoying the comforts to which they are entitled.
The case so ably stated the other day by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) was most gratifying to us for, if we can rely on the figures he quoted, as we have every reason to, industrial production and trade will no doubt be as great in 1949 as in 1948.
1264 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Lesage
For a few days fanners had been a bit concerned at the news, especially press reports of falling prices for second grade butter, which brought on some uneasiness.
In Quebec, and Ontario too for that matter, but especially in Quebec, and in my constituency, the dairy industry is the basis of agriculture.
The dairy industry accounts for 36 per cent of the farming income in the province of Quebec, and the proportion is undoubtedly the same, if not higher, in my constituency. If anything is done involving serious harm for the dairy industry, agriculture will surely be ruined in the province of Quebec.
Let us bear in mind that farm prices are guaranteed by the dominion government. Let farmers remember that it was the dominion government which set floor prices on first grade butter and guarantees that butter prices will be held at levels permitting farmers to operate at a profit, considering their production costs.
Of course what worries the farmers of Montmagny-L'Islet is the margarine issue.
I wish to discuss it, because I have had many representations on that matter from farmers in my constituency. They feared that the placing of margarine on the market might cause considerable harm to the dairy industry in particular, and to agriculture generally.
Representations made to me are perhaps due to the fact that certain political opponents, more concerned with fancied political success than respect for the truth, spread the rumour and even said openly that the sale of margarine in Canada was due to some action by the federal government.
Mr. Speaker, anyone conversant with the facts knows that it was the Senate which proposed, at the last session, that the question of the validity of the ban imposed on margarine be referred to the supreme court. This ban on margarine was imposed by section 5
(a) of the Dairy Industry Act, R.S.C., 1927, c. 45. The supreme court was being called upon to decide whether the manufacture and sale of margarine or oleomargarine was actually within the jurisdiction of the central government which in 1886 enacted legislation prohibiting the manufacture and sale of certain butter substitutes. Subsequently, this law was incorporated into others and finally became a part of the Dairy Industry Act, as I was saying a moment ago.
Various public groups were represented at the supreme court, including the federal government. The deputy minister of justice, Mr. Varcoe, representing the latter, held that the act was intra vires of the federal government's jurisdiction, and was valid; whereas other public bodies, such as the Quebec provincial government, represented by L. E. Beaulieu, K.C., held that the matter was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces and that, therefore, the federal statute was unconstitutional. As a matter of fact, Mr. Beaulieu, in his brief, presented in the name of the attorney general of Quebec, dated September 21, 1948, concluded his argument thus:
For the above reasons, the Attorney General for Quebec respectfully submits that section 5, subsection (a) of the Dairy Industry Act, R.S.C. c. 45, is invalid, ultra vires and unconstitutional.
The supreme court passed a judgment on December 14, 1948, and decided by a majority of five against two that the section in question of the federal statute prohibiting the manufacturing and sale of margarine was unconstitutional. Mr. Justice Taschereau passed the judgment in French as follows:
On this point, in my estimation, jurisprudence entertains no doubt. It must therefore be concluded that the control of the sale of margarine and oleomargarine in a province, considering its local and private nature, is outside federal government jurisdiction.
Section 5 (a) of the Dairy Industry Act, to the extent where it prohibits the manufacture, oifer for sale, sale or holding for sale, is ultra vires of the powers of the Canadian parliament.
The case is definitely settled. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and other associations have requested the federal government to appeal against this decision to the privy council. Obviously it would be difficult for me, Mr. Speaker, to recommend or ask the federal government to appeal against this decision as even before I was a member of this house I have always claimed that the right of appeal to London was a colonial humiliation. That is the exact term which I used to say that we should rid ourselves of these appeals to the privy council as soon as possible. Under the circumstances, it would not be proper for me to recommend to the government or ask them to appeal from that decision. Besides, the matter has now been settled and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has quite well understood the position in which the dominion government
The Address-Mr. Lesage
was placed, since it has decided itself to lodge an appeal from that decision with the privy
Duplessis intended to introduce a bill prohibiting "the importation, manufacture, sale and possession of margarine" in the province of Quebec.
The federation and other agricultural associations have also requested that parliament should enact rules with regard to the colouring of margarine.
I can tell you quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, that on reading again the judgment of Mr. Justice Taschereau, I wonder how the dominion parliament could enact a regulation of that character that would be consistent with the constitution.
Let us ponder the words of Mr. Justice Taschereau which I quoted a few moments ago. We can only infer from them that the control of the sale of margarine or oleomargarine is not within the jurisdiction of the dominion government. Could not the supreme court decision be construed as meaning that the federal government can no longer deal with the matter, that federal legislation in this regard is unconstitutional, does not concern the federal government and that the matter is now up to the provinces?
Mr. Speaker, the legislature of the province of Quebec has subscribed to that decision by passing a law-the merits of which I do not have to discuss-a law which does not control the sale and manufacture of margarine but allows the Quebec provincial government to control by means of orders in council or prohibit in the same way the sale, manufacture, or possession of margarine or oleomargarine.
Obviously, the dairy industry in my constituency and throughout the province of Quebec will benefit from that law. I am sure the federal government could assist in the application of such provincial laws. I am pleased to quote in this connection the report, dated Wednesday, February 23, 1949, of Mr. Lorenzo Pare, parliamentary reporter for L'Action Catholique, about an interview he had had with the Prime Minister (Mr. St.
Last night, Mr. St. Laurent clearly indicated that his government would not contest the legality of the bill that Mr. Duplessis is supposed to introduce regarding margarine. On the contrary, the present leader of the government intends to co-operate in its enforcement.
And again further, I quote:
It is clear that regulations pertaining to the importation of margarine come under the jurisdiction of the dominion government and, in.that regard, the bill on margarine which will be introduced in the Quebec legislature within a few days could well be challenged as ultra vires.
With respect to importation, Mr. St. Laurent is so willing to support provincial autonomy that he is even ready to confirm a precedent of great significance from the constitutional standpoint. The Prime Minister does not think that the provincial legislatures could prohibit the importation of margarine without the co-operation of the dominion government. If a province takes any steps in this respect, the federal authorities, having jurisdiction over imports, would most probably co-operate with the provincial authorities so that the wishes of the people in any particular province, as expressed by their legislature, might be carried out. Mr. St. Laurent has already indicated that this practice is followed with respect to interprovincial trade in intoxicating beverages.
This interview not only shows the very high respect which the Prime Minister of Canada has for provincial autonomy but also the extent to which he is ready to co-operate with each provincial government in order to bring about what they believe is in the best public interest.
Mr. Speaker, no matter how much we may be called centralists, it is impossible to quote a single instance where invasion of provincial fields occurred since the war. On the contrary, the dominion government-and the present parliament-have co-operated very closely at all times with the provinces while remaining respectful of their autonomy and while giving them the means to exercise their prerogatives within the limits of their jurisdiction. That is what we have sought to do and that is what we shall keep on doing, in spite of the absolutely unjustified attacks leveled against us.
Prime Minister St. Laurent indicated last night that the provinces are entitled to greater powers than are generally recognized in the commercial field. He even gave to understand that the dominion government would co-operate with a province in enforcing a measure that would prevent certain products of other provinces from crossing the boundaries of the other province.
Mr. St. Laurent had already expressed those opinions in the house, but yesterday they assumed special importance. There was concern in parliamentary circles when it was announced that Premier
In conclusion, with respect to this matter of margarine, let us remember that it comes within the exclusive purview of the provinces, that it is out of bounds to the federal parliament. However, the farmers of my constituency and of every constituency in Canada may rest assured that the dominion government will take the necessary steps to ensure that they are protected in this regard. In so far as dairy industries located within the boundaries of the various provinces are concerned, the federal government is prepared
The Address-Mr. Lesage to co-operate in every way with all provinces, as was so ably expressed by the right hon. the Prime Minister during the interview he granted to Mr. Pare.
Mr. Speaker, the other question in which my constituents-and all of them this time- are greatly interested, is that of income tax. It is true that nearly every member has referred to it but I should like to hark back to a subject I discussed during former sessions.
At each session, on the budget debate, I felt it a duty to make certain representations and to offer certain considerations on that subject. This time, I believe it is more advisable to make my representations at this stage, before the budget speech is delivered by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott). My representations originate with my electors and I want to state them objectively.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the time has come for the government of Canada to grant the Canadian taxpayers a considerable income tax reduction. Some people would like to propose total or near total suppression of income tax so that it could be replaced by another taxation system, for instance a direct retail tax similar to the sales tax which is levied in the province of Quebec. Frankly, with all due respect to the promoters of that idea, I cannot admit that such a system is fair according to the principles of social philosophy. Let us take, for example, the case of two taxpayers. On one hand we have the man of means and on the other the labourer or farmer with an average income and a family to support. The man of wealth who has no dependents, or very few, now pays a goodly share of the income tax, although he would pay much less if a sales tax were to replace the income tax. Now, the labourer earning $2,000 per annum, for example, who has five or six dependents, does not pay any income tax at all but he would have to pay the sales tax on everything he buys, especially on children's clothing. It could, of course, be argued that children's clothing would not be taxed. We all know however that a boy of fourteen dresses like a man and in this respect there is no difference. I know quite a few family men in the house who would know all about it.
Such a sales tax would necessarily be levied on all kinds of articles required to raise a
family. The worker I mentioned a moment ago, who does not pay any income tax at present, would have to pay in sales taxes the amount that would no longer be collected in income tax from rich people.
I do not think I am going too far in saying that such a system would be the opposite of social justice.
I have often expressed my attitude regarding taxation. In 1946, I stated in this house that according to principles of social justice taxes should be proportionate to the means and obligations of the citizens.
That is why I contend that under certain conditions income tax is the fairest way of collecting funds for the state. In 1947 I said, as reported at page 3000 of Hansard:
You will often hear people say-and at times they are well informed people-that the personal income tax involves inequality of charges because too many citizens escape its provision^. One has to admit that that is true to a certain extent, but theoretically and even in fact, because the cases of evasion are the exception, it is still based on the fairest principles of taxation as long as it does not take away from the citizen what is necessary for him and his family to live according to the general standard of living in the country.
The reasons which justify me, and my constituents as well, in asking that the tax levy be appreciably reduced during this session bring me to request that this reduction be effected by increased exemptions rather than by lowered rates.
There is no doubt that, in view of the present day cost of living, the $750 and $1,500 exemptions granted single taxpayers on the one hand and married people on the other, and the $100 and $300 deductions regarding, in the first case, the children who benefit from family allowances and, in the second, those who do not, are far from sufficient.
Exemption levels must be considerably increased. I take the liberty of quoting, in this connection, part of an editorial appearing in L'Action Catholique of Friday, February 21, 1949, under the signature of Andre Eoy, as follows:
On the other hand, while it is hoped that the cost-of-living index has reached its peak and that the consumer may expect some relief in this direction,-although, because of several factors of a varied nature, such as the operation of the Marshall plan, and the growing tendency towards collective labour agreements, the drop will fortunately be quite small,-it is important that the small and average earning groups be granted the necessary respite in order that they may be able to meet those obligations which, from a social standpoint, are obviously becoming more urgent than ever, while from an economic viewpoint, the collapse of
purchasing power amongst these earning classes might bring about a rather serious depression, even though our foreign trade remained prosperous.
The high cost of living is obviously the argument that impresses most the greater portion of the people, but there are others and I discovered one while listening to the member who spoke before me. The hon. member for Lambton-Kent (Mr. Henderson) referred to the intricacies of farmers' income tax forms. There is no point in trying to do away with the intricacies of income tax forms. It is a hopeless undertaking. It will never be possible for a farmer to make out an income tax form, an annual report on his earnings, without submitting a financial statement, a detailed account of earnings and expenses.
All this is, of course, highly complicated work for a farmer. In order to do that he would have to keep books, not only on a daily, but on an hourly basis.
Does he have time enough for that? Has he the inclination for that? Working as he does, from dawn till dusk, and often from before dawn to after dark, he has no time left to look after all these things. If he cannot fill out his form himself, he will have to seek the help of an accountant or of a notary who will charge him a fee.
Then, by raising to a proper level the basic exemptions for single as well as for married people, and by increasing the exemptions granted in the case of children, most of the farmers will be taken off the income tax roll and the government will avoid spending a fairly large amount of money to collect only a few dollars.
In this same connection, the low-income workers lot is not to be envied either. Is there anything more aggravating for the worker than to see his weekly salary cheque, which is hardly sufficient for the needs of his family, cut down, even if only a little, through income tax deductions?
By raising the exemption levels the government would take off the income tax roll the workers who earn but little, those who have a family to look after, those who need to be helped.
I fully understand that government requirements may have justified this condition in the past because on the one hand the needs of taxpayers and their dependents are one of the main bases for any taxation system, and on the other hand government requirements are a second and fundamental basis.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The Address-Mr. Lesage AFTER RECESS
The house resumed at seven-thirty o'clock.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, when the house took recess at six o'clock, I was stating the reasons why I believe that a general rise in the level of income tax exemptions is imperative this year and I was about to quote an excerpt from the budget speech which the Minister of Finance delivered last year. Here are his words as recorded on page 4063 of Hansard:
I believe that all parties in this parliament and most Canadians share the view that the national budget is no longer merely a matter of the government accounts that should be balanced every twelve months on some financial rule of thumb. We view the national budget now as an integral part of the nation's business, influenced by and having an influence upon the state of employment, income and prices. I think we would all agree that in times of widespread unemployment and insufficient demand for goods and services our expenditures should be increased in order to support employment and incomes, and that they could and should exceed our revenues under such conditions. Now we are at the opposite extreme and we should follow the opposite course. We should deliberately budget, as a matter of policy, for substantial surpluses in times like these. Only that way can we hold inflationary forces in check.
It is evident that by these words the Minister of Finance was expounding the theory or system of cyclical budgeting. I submit that the very application of this system justifies a reduction of income tax this year. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is certain that inflationary forces are much less active than last year. The cost of living tends to become stabilized and in fact at this time it seems that the trend is towards a decline. There are certain districts in Canada where industrial and economic activities have slowed down in the past few months. I realize that to a great extent this slackening may be due to many factors, such as weather which has afflicted certain districts in Canada but we must admit that, in spite of all, there is a slight decline generally in industrial and economic activities. Savings also are decreasing and for all these reasons, although I do not wish to raise a scare, because I consider this recession only seasonal and temporary, I feel the income tax should be reduced in order to give a break to those in the lower income brackets and afford them the means to improve, if possible, their standard of living.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
It is quite certain that, by giving a chance to those who have only low or fair incomes, inflationary forces are not so stimulated because, with the money that they save from the income tax, these people will be able to procure not luxury articles but the necessities of life.
The Montreal board of trade has suggested that the exemption for single persons be brought up to at least $1,000 and that for married people to at least $2,000. Note that in both cases it is a minimum. The Canadian federation of agriculture suggested that the exemption be increased for single persons and married people to $1,200 and $2,400, respectively. I feel the government, in accordance with the financial position of the country, should allow the greatest margin of exemption possible. Information from reliable sources indicates that the increase of the exemption to $1,000 for single persons and to $2,000 for married people would alone cause a loss of revenue of about $275 million. It is easy to say that a surplus of several hundred million dollars is anticipated; but the anticipated surplus will not be as high as expected, because part of it will serve to increase our reserves of foreign exchange and for other capital investments. The actual surplus for the fiscal year will be far less than has been mentioned in some circles.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, the increase in the rate of exemptions will bring about a decrease in the surplus because it would be only fair that all increases in exemptions be made retroactive to January 1, 1949. Thus the surplus for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1949, will be reduced in proportion to the increases in exemptions for the three-month period from January 1 to March 31, 1949.
As far as exemptions for single persons are concerned, I do not think that they should necessarily be exactly half those granted married persons. Everyone will agree that a married couple can enjoy the same standard of living as a bachelor but that it does not cost them twice as much. In view of the fact that young people should save for the future and plan for marriage,
I feel that the government would be justified in granting single taxpayers an exemption of a little more than half that allowed married people.
I believe that an exemption of at least $200 regarding children under sixteen and of $400 regarding children over that age is fully warranted. While I am on the subject, may I support what the hon. member for Dor-
Chester (Mr. Tremblay) said this afternoon in his splendid speech when he requested that exemptions be granted with respect to college and university students, even though they were over twenty-one years old. I can do no better than repeat what I said when discussing this matter during the 1946 session, as reported in Hansard of July 23:
Before I go on, I should like to say a few words about the exemptions for children going to college or university. I submit that there should be no age limit of twenty-one and, in addition, that the cost of sending a son or daughter to university is so much more than $300 a year that a man should be allowed to deduct the actual expenses incurred in the education of his son or daughter falling within that category. Let him produce receipts, if necessary, but give him a chance. Taxpayers of average means cannot afford such advanced education for their children. However, I submit that those children have the same right of education that the children of rich men have. The interest of the state itself is to have the greatest possible number of advanced and educated men, and its corollary duty is to encourage young people and their parents to do so, in giving all classes of society equality of opportunity in that field.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, many people living in the constituency I have the honour to represent would consider me remiss in my duty if I did not take advantage of the opportunity afforded by this debate to place before the government some of the many problems confronting the people not only of my own constituency but of all parts of Canada.
During these past days and weeks many of my colleagues who have preceded me have advanced ample argument in support of the amendment to the amendment moved by my leader, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Cold well); but before proceeding to deal with the speech from the throne I should like to say a few words in appreciation of the services rendered to this country in general and to agriculture in particular by the retiring deputy minister of agriculture, Dr. Barton. I am sure we all wish him success in his new undertaking, which I understand to be in the nature of a roving representative of the Minister of Agriculture; and I hope he will now have more time to place the viewpoint of the Canadian farmer before international gatherings.
In this connection I should like to refer to the book "Canada and the United Nations, 1948" released by the Department of External Affairs on February 28 of this year. There reference is made to the food and agricultural organization; and in order to refresh the memory of hon. members as to the aims
and objects of the FAO I am going to quote the first paragraph on page 121:
The food and agricultural organization, which came into existence in 1945 as a result of the United Nations conference on food and agriculture held in May, 1943, at Hot Springs, Virginia, was founded for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living, securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, and bettering the condition of rural populations and thus contributing towards an expanding world economy.
Then further, on page 122:
At its fourth session, held in Washington, November 15-29, 1948, the conference of FAO adopted a report on the state of food and agriculture which urged that, in spite of the generally good crops of 1948, there should be no over-optimism regarding future levels of nutrition and living standards.
Then further on down the same page:
The question of the world food supply was placed on the agenda of the third session of the general assembly by the delegation of Poland which requested that the assembly consider the problem of food wastage in certain countries, and by the delegation of Cuba which recommended the reduction of taxes on foodstuffs. These two resolutions initiated a long general discussion in the course of which many resolutions and amendments were submitted to the second committee which considered the question. Finally by a vote of 22 in favour, 7 against with 11 abstentions (including Canada) a lengthy resolution was recommended to the general assembly for adoption.
When this resolution was considered in the plenary session of the general assembly, amendments jointly sponsored by the Canadian, the United Kingdom, the New Zealand and the United States delegations, which deleted specific references to high profits of middlemen and speculators, and which put into general terms a recommendation to the economic and social council concerning its continuing study of the problem, were adopted.
I should like to know why our representatives to these gatherings should be so considerate of the feelings of those who extort high profits, be they middlemen or speculators. In my opinion our representatives should voice the demands of our farmers, who want prices that are fair to both consumers and producers.
At this time may I also express my personal pleasure over the appointment to the important post of deputy minister of agriculture of a former minister of agriculture of my province of Saskatchewan. I sat in the same legislature with Mr. Taggart; and while I did not always agree with his policies I did admire his ability, and I appreciate his fairness in debate. I wish him success in his new duties. Both he and the minister are going to have a battle on their hands to keep the other departments of this government from putting agriculture in this country in an impossible position. Let me warn the government that our farmers are not in the mood to let themselves be pushed around.
During this debate many of my colleagues in this party have placed on record the fears
The Address-Mr. Burton and anxieties that today are uppermost in the minds of our farmers. Now let us look at the speech from the throne, which is supposed to forecast the legislation the government intends to place before us during the course of this session. There is not one single sentence having reference to agriculture; and in only two places could a person, by any stretch of the imagination, find anything that might even indirectly affect this basic industry. When a person looks at that speech and bears in mind the indifference of some of the ministers of this government to the vital problems affecting so many sections of our country, one feels like really making a job of taking them apart to see what makes them tick. On the other hand there are times when I cannot help feeling sorry for the government. They remind me so much of an old work horse that has served you well for years but has come to the end of its usefulness. I never could bring myself to the point of lashing an old plug like that.
This brings to mind a conversation I had last fall with a friend of mine. He was complaining about the difficulty he found in keeping up with his work, keeping his weeds under control and so on. He said to me, "Look at that old plug there," pointing to a horse which he called Lib. "Why, Lib used to be a pretty good horse in his day, but I simply can't get anything out of him any more." I said, "When I saw him galloping around in the Rosthern pasture he seemed to be kicking up his heels quite a bit." He said, "Yes, he did fool a great many people at that time. He even had some people thinking there was water in places where there will not be any for a long time to come." I said, "What are you going to do with old Lib? Are you going to pack him off to the horse-meat packing plant?" He said, "No, I do not think I will do that." "Well, I have had some offers from Barney Google, from down Melville way, who came along with a bunch of city slickers from Winnipeg. They wanted me to trade him for what they called the western bloc, but I am not going to fool with that." I said to him, "There is neighbour Conn up on mortgage hill and he has an old grey plug he would like to trade off." "Oh, no," he said, "that fellow has had different riders for that old plug almost every year. You know what happened to that college professor who had a lot of experience gentling creatures like that; he even threw him. Now, they have another fellow up on top decked out in fine clothes and they are rearing to go for the stampede. They are asking me to put my money on him, but not me. I have been fooled too often; that fellow has been thrown by lesser horses than the old grey one. I am
1270 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Burton not going to take a chance." He said, "You know, Joe, I think it is time I became modern. I am going to follow your example and have modern equipment on my farm so I can get rid of these horses of mine. I am going to vote modern by voting C.C.F. and see if we cannot get rid of some of these combines and cartels."
Our farmers are not very exacting in their requests, Mr. Speaker. Our farmers do not want anything that is not theirs. Friends, we should stop to think of the farmer who rises in the early dawn along with the birds. He and they offer a song of praise to God at the opening of the day. The farmer then carries on through the heat and the burden of the day. In the twilight hours of his life of usefulness, all he asks for is a measure of security for himself and his family. The farmer is the instrument through which God produces the foodstuff by which the human race is fed. It is through the farmer that it is possible for the human race to continue. All that he asks is a fair deal.
I should like to remind you that at this time our soil, after being locked in winter's sleep, is even now beginning to stir. It is bursting those shackles of ice and snow and will soon be ready to receive the seed planted by .the farmers. I say to this government that when the farmer continues to do that year after year he is doing his share, and the least the government can do is to see that he has the security that he requires. What have we? Even at the present time the government is dilly-dallying and we still do not know whether we are going to have the coarse grains handled by the speculators or whether they will be handled in a decent and orderly manner.
When we talk about security, I should like to say there is another section or group of people who are very much in need of security.
I have no intention of becoming involved in the controversy between the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Reid) and my colleague the member for Wood Mountain (Mr. Argue). Let me just say this: In spite of the arguments which may flow back and forth, the people in the province of Saskatchewan, as well as the people in a number of other provinces, are resentful of the fact that this government has failed to bring into effect the health program proposed at the dominion-provincial conference, at least for those provinces that were willing to co-operate and have shown that willingness by signing taxation agreements with the dominion government.
Turning to what the member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) said the other day,
I wish to express my appreciation of the acknowledgment he made at that time. On page 1144 of Hansard of March 4, he said:
Everyone who knows anything about what is happening in Saskatchewan must give the authorities and the people of Saskatchewan a great deal of credit for what has been accomplished in the matter of hospitalization and social services. 1 say that in all fairness. The province from which I come is endeavouring to emulate what has been done in Saskatchewan, because we believe a fair standard has been set by that province. It is true that according to the table appearing at page 1087 of Hansard, Saskatchewan has only received 1-1 per cent of the hospital construction grant. This is simply due to the difficulties experienced by that province, as well as other provinces, in sending in accounts for projects.
That answer, Mr. Speaker, might be correct for the time being, but it overlooks the fact that, before the province of Saskatchewan could inaugurate this scheme of hospitalization to which the member for New Westminster was referring, additional bed space was needed. The province proceeded to make those additional hospital facilities available, and in the past few years it has doubled the hospital bed capacity. A good deal of the construction for that purpose had already taken place before the minister's scheme came into effect. In many cases the cut-off date in the scheme debarred these projects from sharing in it.
We are now in this position: We have hospital space and we have our hospitalization plan in effect, but we cannot share in the construction grants that are available. This places us in the position of not being able to properly care for the people for whom we should really be caring under a national health program. I refer to the incurables. It is all right for the minister or his officials to refer these people to the provinces and say, "There is where you should get your assistance."
The minister's speech, which I enjoyed, contained a wealth of information. He referred to the number of rheumatic and arthritic cases with which his department has to contend, but I would say, Mr. Speaker, there is a considerable number of people in addition to those. I have only time to list a few examples. I know a girl who is only thirty years of age. In her childhood she either suffered an accident or had infantile paralysis-I have not been able to ascertain which-and she has been crippled ever since. She has to be carried from one room to another. She cannot take a single step. This girl is helpless physically, yet her mind is as bright as a new dollar. There is no help for that girl, and she is only one of hundreds- yes, thousands-like her throughout the country.
I want to draw your attention to another case. Here is a woman who wrote to me as follows:
It will be four years August 6 since Mr. Blank-
She gives his name.
-had a stroke which left his right side paralysed. He has not gotten any better. Our doctor tells us he will never walk again. I cannot go out to earn even my own living as I cannot leave him alone. I have no income. He has no pension of any kind. He will be 67 years old on the 26th of this month. There are pensions for old age, for blind people, and many other kinds. We would be so grateful if this bill would go through very soon.
I have one more case to which I should like to refer; and again I would point out that these are only examples of thousands like them.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
This is the case of a girl nearly thirty years of age. She writes as follows:
I have been a'cripple since birth. I walk with aid of crutches all the time and wear braces to the hip.
Further on she says:
So, on behalf of all incurables in Canada and myself I am sincerely asking our government at Ottawa to help us unfortunate people for a fair pension . . .
I am placing that matter before the minister and the government. As time is passing rapidly, I wish to deal with a number of other matters. Reference has been made to income tax. I do not intend to go into all the details. We all have heard them time and again. Only yesterday the hon. member for Vegreville (Mr. Hlynka) placed on the record vividly a description of some of the abuses that are taking place in our income tax department. In my opinion it is high time that the minister or someone got busy and had things cleaned up in that department. I wish to remind the minister of the question I asked in the house some time ago. In fact, this question stood on the order paper for quite a long time. It is a reasonable question. It should not require much digging to find the necessary information. The question was:
1. Do rural telephone companies organized on a non-profit basis have to complete income tax returns?
2. If so, for what reason?
When I finally got the answers, I found they were as follows:
2. Sections 33 (1) and 35 (2) of the Income War Tax Act and section 40 (1) (a) of the Income Tax Act require all corporations to file returns. It should be noted that in order to qualify for the exemption, a company must not only be organized, but must be operated, on a non-profit basis.
The Address-Mr. Burton The difficulty, Mr. Speaker, is that the department officials just simply do not concern themselves enough to inform themselves properly as to what is going on. We have a good example right in Saskatchewan where we have 1,039 rural telephone companies organized. Of that number, 237 were incorporated quite a few years ago and could be classified as share companies that could pay dividends if their returns warranted their doing so. But none of these 237 companies have paid dividends on their shares for the past ten years. Nevertheless, from some of those companies the income tax department is extracting income tax, in spite of the fact that some of these companies' lines are nearly forty years of age. They have a little money that they have been putting in reserve in order to be able to reconstruct those lines. Then the department steps in and attaches their reserves. That is bad enough. But when we get to the other class of telephone companies that later on were organized under a new act, what is the situation? This act made it possible for people in the rural areas of the province to provide themselves with telephone services. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) himself was a member of the government during the time that a considerable amount of construction work of that kind was going on. We have 802 companies that are operating on a service-at-cost basis and not for profit. They are incorporated under the provincial act, and they operate those systems only to give service to the people.
I have not the time in which to give a full outline, but I shall endeavour to do it as briefly as possible. Back in 1919 I helped to organize a company which constructed a rural telephone line serving about 150 or more farmers. We borrowed on debenture in the neighbourhood of $40,000. We then proceeded to pay back that money, plus the interest, by having our municipality levy a tax on the land alongside the telephone lines. Each subscriber of necessity- under the bylaws under which we operated and under which we were incorporated- had to be a shareholder. But these shares bore no dividends. All that we did was to have those shares issued, so that the subscribers were shareholders before we provided them with service. Then we just charged them for the maintenance costs of those lines. Every one of those 1,039 companies will be obliged to clutter up the offices of the income tax department at Saskatoon. The hon. member for Vegreville was telling us what happened in Alberta with regard to the man to whom he made reference. Similarly, I am prepared to tell
The Address-Mr. Burton you, Mr. Speaker,-and through you, the house-that the income tax department will endeavour to extract from these companies money that in the first place was raised by taxation of the land alongside these telephone lines.
There is another matter to which I would like to refer, namely, the small flour mills. I also inquired of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) what provision his department was making for these small flour mills to have an opportunity to share in the flour export business. His answer was far from satisfactory. Later on the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Viau) made reference to the question I had asked. In spite of the fact that the minister said it would be something in the nature of a private enterprise that would solicit this business for export. The hon. member for St. Boniface pointed out that the big flour milling concerns that have their headquarters in the eastern part of Canada are sitting on the lines of traffic and can grab off that business.
I have here a letter from the operator of a flour mill in my constituency, which reads in part as follows:
Just received House of Commons debates official report, February 25, for which I thank you.
Mr. Howe's reply is partly correct. Each flour mill sells its product in the domestic market, but I do not agree with him when he says "or the foreign market as it sees fit."
The matter of individual enterprise is a joke.
I should like to make reference to the big corporations that are making it impossible for the small enterprises to operate. In that connection I should like to quote from an editorial which appeared in the Prairie Messenger, which is printed in Muenster, Saskatchewan. It is dated February 24, 1949, and reads in part as follows:
"Better men for better times," a report of the commission on American citizenship appointed by the Catholic University of America and published in 1943. Speaking of "untrammeled competition" in business, the report said:
"It exalts ruthlessness, sharp practice, indifference to human values, and selfishness of every description ... It is the negation of all that is implied in the sermon on the mount. No man and no combination of men have the right to seek prosperity at the expense of the common welfare. . . The blithe assumption that, as long as we hew to the line of personal success, the chips will fall in the nature of a benediction on our fellow man has proven empty. In the midst of contemporary world turmoil and domestic confusion, we are learning in the hard way that society must put brakes on competition and that, if it is to survive, capitalism must be shorn of its individualism and made to submit to social controls.
I offer that to the government for its consideration.
There is another matter to which I should like to call the attention of hon. members.
I hold in my hand a copy of what is called
the Canadian Mail, which contains the following headline: "Socialists dissemble-but they cannot deny these frightening truths." The paper contains thirteen questions with which I had intended to deal, but time does permit me to do so. The whole front page and the first inside page is full of their extracts from speeches of members of the C.C.F. taken from here and there to try to bolster up their arguments. My reply is that not only do we deny the accusations made in this paper, but they have been branded for what they are, and yet they keep on publishing this stuff. We of the C.C.F. believe in liberty, but we also adhere to the truth that liberty does not mean licence. We believe in freedom of the press but we deny that that freedom carries with it the right to prostitute truth by taking sentences here and there from their context to convey a meaning different from what was meant by the speaker.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
If time permitted I could bring ample proof of that. Much of what I had intended to say this evening will be left over for some other time. I do not wish to tax your patience, Mr. Speaker, or the patience of hon. members; but I want to say that we of the C.C.F. have been accused quite a number of times of being mixed up with the communists. I believe that very often those who have made that accusation have made it for the purpose of distracting attention from themselves. Let me repeat that we are opposed to communism. We reject its atheistic and materialistic philosophy. We disagree with many of its policies. We abhor the methods by which it endeavours to gain and retain power. We are opposed to any form of dictatorship, be it either of the right or of the left. We have many examples, Mr. Speaker, of people who did not acknowledge these truths becoming enmeshed. Very often those who were the loudest in disclaiming communists were accessories in helping to bring communism into effect.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
When we stop to consider the deplorable conditions that we find in many parts of the world our hearts cannot help but grieve that in our time we have to contend with matters of that kind.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I should like to draw to the attention of hon. members, through you, the immortal and memorable remarks contained in Lincoln's Gettysburg address. To me it has always seemed that Lincoln, whose heart was filled with anguish
and his shoulders stooped with the responsibility of leading his country through the greatest of all national catastrophes that can befall a nation, the tragedy of civil war, standing that day with his feet on the soil saturated with the blood of his fellow countrymen, prayed:
That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
May I appeal to hon. members in our time that we also turn our hearts to God and pray for the rebirth of our democratic institutions, and that through them we may be able to bring about the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne as to the needs of my riding. We are largely an agricultural riding, and it contains some of the best dairy herds in Canada. Owing to the demand for dairy cattle in the United States during the past few years, thousands have gone from our riding to build up the herds of our neighbour to the south. This has been beneficial to both countries. We get the United States dollars badly needed in this country and they get cows so urgently required to provide milk and butter for their people.
This has been a great era of prosperity on the North American continent, and we hope that this trend of trade will continue, as it is a great help to the economy of our country. We not only sent many of our dairy cattle, but very many of our beef cattle have gone to the United States since the embargo was lifted. Farmers in my riding are not in a very happy mood at the present time. They are all willing to do their share in our national economy, which they did in wartime and have done since. I know many farmers who during the war period carried on with no help. The result was that the wife, husband and children were working on the average twelve hours a day. Since the average farmer has ten cows, forty hogs and perhaps 1,000 chicks, as well as laying hens, a great deal of work has to be accomplished to keep the farm operating. The hour of six or earlier in the morning saw the farmer out milking the cows and feeding the hogs. The mother or wife often had the task of looking after the fowl.
The exemptions for income taxes are too low, $750 for single persons and $1,500 for married persons. By the time the house is kept, the children clothed, the coal and food purchased, there is not much left over for a rainy day. The same thing applies to the married couples living in towns. I would
The Address-Mr. Menary like to tell the government it cannot be done. Would one of our ministers like to trade his job and salary with these people, even for a short time?
Since last summer they have been hounded by income tax inspectors for taxes on the great contribution they made to supply food in this period of our history. It might well be said that either we supply food or we lose the battle for freedom. If our farmers only knew how this government has spent their money, they might feel even worse.
A question was asked on the order paper as to why this government paid W. C. Thomson, a Toronto lawyer, a large sum of money. It is true Mr. Thomson contested the provincial leadership with Mr. Farquhar Oliver, and lost; but inside of two months after Mr. Thomson's defeat the dominion government paid him $173,300. True, it would look like a good deal for Mr. Thomson; but the people want to know what he did to get such a generous sum.
I have received letters from my riding protesting the various taxes. The sales tax especially has been the target of much criticism. The federal tax takes a big slice of many day-to-day commodities. This is a so-called luxury tax. These taxes-imposed as a purely wartime measure-run from 10 to 35 per cent, and are of course additional to the 8 per cent federal sales tax. Here are some of the goods on which the luxury tax is paid: toothpaste, shaving soap, antiseptics, perfumes and cosmetics, 25 per cent; chocolates, candy, chewing gum and all candy-like confectionery, 30 per cent; soft drinks, 40 per cent-almost half; trunks, suit cases, handbags, wallets, purses and all luggage, 35 per cent; fur coats, dressed furs, dyed furs, 10 per cent; automobiles, 10 per cent.
Under modern living standards in Canada most, if not all, of these items are not luxuries to be enjoyed by the wealthy, but necessities for the mass of the people. Who would call toothpaste, shaving soap, clocks, trucks or pens luxuries? Even such items as soft drinks, chocolate bars and candies are not necessarily luxuries. If these items are not luxuries, why should they continue to bear this heavy burden of taxes?
I would like to say a few words in this debate about the plight of our aged people. It is a tragic situation when they have to keep up a home, and especially when one is living alone. They must find it extremely hard to buy fuel, food and clothing on $30 a month. If the government has any idea of increasing this pension, why not do it now? In view of the large surplus, the government should be able to increase this pension.
The Address-Mr. Warren
These elder citizens should not want, as they have helped to make Canada what it is today. I have always contended that the old age pension should be on a contributory basis and I was the first one to bring this forward in the House of Commons. There is no one who cannot pay, let us say, one or two dollars per month, and get more when he or she reaches the age of sixty or sixty-five. By making these small payments these people will feel that it is an insurance, and that they are part of the plan.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY