-but from my experience and the statistical record of T.C.A. and the North Star aircraft, I feel that we have an air service in Canada that is second to none in the world. As a Canadian I want to be fair to Canadian institutions and to Canadian craftsmanship and, where there is any evidence of it, to Canadian good management.
For the reasons I have stated, an opportunity has been denied us to bring forward serious public problems during the session which is likely to conclude in a few hours. I would like to have supported the hon. member for Battle River (Mr. Fair) in what he had to say a short time ago about the granting of clear titles to our soldier settlers. No one has fought more keenly in their interests than that hon. member, the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. Wright), the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. McKay) and others, but the government is still sticking to the form of contract made thirty or more years ago.
I am sorry the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) has failed to return for these last few days. Last autumn when speaking on behalf of the hon. member for Rosthem (Mr. Boucher) during the by-election he assured the people of Saskatchewan that at an early date important irrigation developments would be carried on in that province. The minister is not here to deny the accusation I make that he is continuously making promises of that kind for narrow partisan or
political advantage. His business is here rather than out in the country in advance of the closing of this twentieth parliament.
On the prairies we need water more than any other single physical thing on this earth and some clue should be given by the government as to when it is going to relieve the dust bowls of Canada with water that is now being wasted by flowing to Hudson bay.
There is another item of considerable importance which I should like to toss at the government this afternoon-the need for a more enlightened immigration policy. For some four hundred years-it is slightly longer than that since Jacques Cartier first claimed Canada for France-the natural increase in population, plus immigration, has averaged only slightly more than 30,000 new Canadians annually. That is not good enough for a land which occupies such an important position and which has such vast resources as the country we call our own. It is not good enough that north of the forty-ninth parallel of latitude we populate at the rate of 30,000 souls a year when below the line the increase of population is at least eleven to twelve times as great.
I can testify that the policy of the Canadian government with respect to immigration is one of almost absolute exclusion. Two weeks ago I heard a delegation from the Canadian-German league and the German-Canadian association, the one a dominion group and the other a Saskatchewan provincial group. They made representations that German nationals are now being excluded by only one country in the world, Canada. Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, France, New Zealand and the United States admit settlers from Germany under certain conditions.
Since the war the policy of the government with respect to the entry of new settlers into Canada has followed the lead of influential employer groups who want a reserve pool of labour. I imagine that if the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Dionne) were to comment upon his Polish immigration scheme of a few years ago he would say that it could be described as a complete flop.
Many hon. members have taken up the cases of citizens of Canada or naturalized Canadians who desire to bring relatives to this country and who are ready to give assurance that they will guarantee to provide all things necessary until these desirable immigrants are themselves Canadian citizens. Every form of delay and obstruction has been placed in their path by the officials and employees of the immigration department. The employees of that department seem to have the complex that new Canadians are
not desired in this country. The Canadian government has so few processing teams on the continent to examine would-be Canadians that it is utterly impossible to bring in any great number.
It is high time that the government reviewed its policy of exclusion. I submit that we should have an immigration board made up not merely of government employees or of influential employers of labour but of representatives of the congresses of labour. Such a board could advise the government on immigration matters and assist in selecting the type of person that should be admitted and not have the selection made only by large-scale employers. This board could help to plan development of our resources in such a way that' they could be used for the benefit of all Canadians, not just for the benefit of those who have capital or who have acquired capital and want to exploit these resources on their own terms.
In the meantime the federal government should consider the requests made by Canadian citizens who desire the admission of their own relatives. A more sympathetic ear should be given to these requests and less obstruction should be placed in the way of those who desire to come to Canada.
The Canadian Pacific Railway Company has its own employees in charge of colonization schemes and they are represented on the Canadian Christian council for the resettlement of refugees. The result is that these refugees are brought to Canada on terms suitable to the Canadian Pacific Railway. A few months ago I asked a question as to how many officials of the C.P.R. were members of the council for the resettlement of refugees. The answer given at that time was, one. Upon inquiry of the officials of the Canadian-German league I have found that that answer was false. Actually, there are three highly placed officials of the Canadian Christian council for the resettlement of refugees who are also employees of the Canadian Pacific Railway's land settlement group. That is not satisfactory to those people who may want to use other vehicles than those provided by the Canadian Pacific Railway for entry into this country.
I should like to ask, too, that the government make the staff of the department of immigration a little more sympathetic to the desire of those people to enter Canada. I cannot make that too emphatic. I believe, Mr. Chairman, that some people in the department have an abhorrence to granting the request of any of our Canadians for the entry of their relatives. A few weeks ago a charge was made in the House of Commons by the member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Stewart) to the effect that certain highly
placed officials of the French nazi party were admitted to Canada against the wishes of the French government. This party objects to that sort of thing and we fight against it with all the power we have. The people who desire the benefits of what democracy we have in Canada should find it as easy as possible to come to this country.
The hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat has remarked that there were many things on his mind which he would like to take up on behalf of his constituents. I am sure if he were to examine the desires of his people at home he would find that they have a slight interest at least in the expenditure of some $400 million for which the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) is now asking by way of interim supply.
I am sure that practically all members of this house would like to have some investigation of the estimates and the expenditures and some examination of the budget before this parliament dissolves. It is hard to believe, Mr. Chairman, that Canadians are living in the year 1949, in a country which is governed by British institutions. When was there a case where a budget was brought down, where estimates were tabled, where a public accounts committee was set up to examine the expenditures of the previous year, and parliament dissolved forthwith?
When this house voted interim supply on March 29, the Minister of Finance said, at page 2148 of Hansard:
As I have said, the form of this bill is exactly the same as in previous years, and the passing of the bill does not prejudice the rights and privileges of members of the House of Commons to criticize any of the individual items in the estimates. And I give the usual undertaking that such rights and privileges will be respected and will not be curtailed or restricted in any way as a result of passing this interim supply measure.
What do we find, sir? We find what is perhaps one of the finest examples of hair-splitting ever witnessed. The Minister of Finance says that that undertaking is just the usual undertaking of a minister of finance when he asks for interim supply. He goes on to explain that, when he said that members of parliament would have an opportunity of investigating the various expenditures, he meant not necessarily the members of this parliament but the members of some subsequent Canadian parliament.
What do we find the situation to be? This government has not given the members of this parliament an opportunity, on behalf of their people at home, to investigate the expenditures of the previous year. The public accounts committee which has been called has had one meeting-I think only one. No opportunity has been afforded the members
of this parliament to examine the expenditures, and I was going to say the proposed expenditures for the coming year, but we are already well into the fiscal year. If this interim supply is granted, six months of the present fiscal year will have gone by before the people's representatives will have any opportunity whatever of examining the purpose for which the money is being spent.
As my leader has just said, there are items such as Canadair and many others concerning which this house and the people of Canada would like information before the items are passed. What is the result of this government calling for dissolution at this time and in the precipitate manner in which it has? The result is that an election will be held towards the end of June and people will be asked to vote for the various candidates. We suppose the government will have candidates running, and it is a fair assumption that they will ask for support on the basis of their record. What opportunity has there been to examine the record of this government so far as the expenditures of the previous year are concerned or the proposed expenditures for the fiscal year in which we are now? In other words, the government has said, "We will go to the country and if we are returned by any possible chance, then we ourselves will examine our own estimates." Is that the way the Canadian people feel that they should be treated, that their money should be so callously disregarded that they have no control whatever over the expenditures of the government?
If the budget amounted to only a small part of the total national income, the matter might not be so important, although the principle would be just as important as it is for the greater amount. We know, however, that the national budget today is a very large proportion of the total national income of this country. Yet no opportunity is to be given to the members of parliament, the members representing the people of Canada, to examine how the government proposes to spend that money, which is already being disbursed. We find ourselves in a constitutional position which is not only grotesque, but is a travesty on all British institutions; for a Prime Minister asks the Governor General for dissolution when we have not had an opportunity of examining the record and the proposed expenditures of this government.
There has been, Mr. Chairman, no opportunity to discuss the budget resolutions. It is utterly impossible for us to have any opportunity of discussing the budget resolutions between now and the proposed dissolution either today or tomorrow. What is the result of that? It means that the deductions are being made from pay rolls, that taxes are being collected, that customs duties are being
levied for perhaps six months, without any of these particular exactions having passed the parliament of this country. This is a very peculiar position.
May I say a word or two about the budget which has been brought down but which has not been endorsed by parliament. In general, I cannot say that I disagree with many of the items in the budget itself. The tremendous surplus which the government has been exacting from the people over and above the necessary expenditures has been returned in part; so that in place of a surplus of approximately $600 million which we had in the last fiscal year we are, according to the government estimates, now budgeting for a surplus of $87 million. I do not think that they can be criticized for budgeting for so little in the way of a surplus. Indeed, it is only a token surplus, and I do not know whether, with the added expenditures, some of which I shall refer to later, that surplus will be adequate to cover the additional expenditures which are being made.
I should like to point out that the so-called cyclical budget theory to which the government subscribed for several years has now gone by the board completely, and we are wondering just what has happened to the principle which the government said was a good one when that idea of cyclical budgeting was first put into effect. One thing that I should like to point out to the committee with regard to this idea of a cyclical budget is this. During the years when the great surpluses were accumulated and taken from the struggling taxpayers, there never was at any time in the original budget estimate any substantial surplus to be compared with the surplus which resulted at the end of the fiscal year. In other words, it would seem that the tremendous budget surpluses which we have had were largely fortuitous. The government never expected to have them. They happened more by accident, because of the great volume of business which was transacted in the country, all of which was in one form or another subjected to taxation. Indeed, as to the main items in the present budget I can only say that I, and I am sure many others in the Progressive Conservative party, feel much like the salesman who has been trying to land an order for four or five years and has at last succeeded in getting a fairly good one. Many of the main items in the budget are things which we have been petitioning for on behalf of our people for four or five years.
I cannot refrain from reporting to the committee two or three descriptions of the budget which I received from people in humble circumstances the morning after the budget was presented, because we on this side of the
house have been striving for these reductions and for this return of the excess taxation taken from our people for these many years. One person said to me, Now we shall be able to start living again. Another said, I could not sleep last night thinking about it. A third one said, At last we can live decently after all these years.
That, Mr. Chairman, is no exaggeration when you consider the position of many of the people with ordinary incomes in this country. To take by way of a surplus over and above vast expenditures no less than $50 for every man, woman and child is a tremendous amount of money. In my riding, to have that much extra would mean that the people could not only pay their bills and meet their taxes, but would be able to look after some of those things which we no longer consider to be luxuries but rather to be part of the ordinary amenities of living on the North American continent. But I will take this opportunity of saying that I approve of many of the reductions which the government has made in the taxation on lower incomes, because not only are some people being relieved of taxation but, in place of having a steeply-graded tax on the comparatively small incomes, which discouraged production, there is now a considerable mitigation having regard to the progressive rate of taxation on the lower incomes.
It is my belief that that change in our tax law will have a considerable effect on production; because if one went through the factories of this country one would find that nearly every worker there knew exactly when he emerged from one tax bracket into another where he had to pay a higher rate, and he had his eye in many cases on that break-even point. That fact undoubtedly had an effect upon production. The same thing applies to people in the higher brackets. They felt that there was no use in putting in additional hours of effort beyond the ordinary round of duty, in working overtime or working on holidays if twenty-five per cent or fifty per cent of the reward went to the government.
It is nothing less than fundamental dishonesty to bring down a budget and to have no opportunity of examining it, and to ask for supply. It is contrary to parliamentary practice. We should at least have been given the opportunity of examining the estimates of expenditure. Indeed, it is the only real control which parliament has had over the generations since we have fought for and established a workable parliamentary system, a system of democratic government for our people so that we might govern ourselves in an orderly fashion and not have to resort to the methods either of dictatorship or of force which are prevalent in certain other countries.
Is it that the government is afraid of the public accounts committee which has just been set up? No reason has been given for the strange action of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) in asking for dissolution at this time. Indeed we may well wonder if his haste to go to the country is inspired by the fact that business in many places is getting a bit spotty, to say the least. No longer are the reports of businesses and companies the same glowing accounts which we have seen over the last few years. The same thing applies to the producers of our raw materials on the farms, in the mines, and in the forests of our country. No doubt the government have said to themselves that now is the time to go to the country before conditions get bad. Perhaps it is because the condition of subsoil moisture in western Canada is now the poorest it has been in a number of years; and the possibility of a crop less bountiful than we have had in the past will greatly reduce their chance of being re-elected. Or perhaps it is because there is an indication of a grasshopper plague in parts of the west. One does not know what these reasons are and they have not been divulged to this committee. Perhaps of even greater importance is the fact that, as my colleague the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) pointed out the other day, our markets abroad are fast disappearing.
In a country where no less than 37 per cent of the total production must be exported, if we cannot find export markets, markets where we get paid in goods or in money for the materials we send over, we can be sure that this country is not facing a period of prosperity. There has been no answer by the government as to where we shall be able to export our surplus products. Most of the products which we do export are surplus. We cannot begin to consume more than one-third of our wheat, or a mere fraction of our newsprint production and lumber production, or of our base metal production, or of many other items. We must have export markets for these materials if we are to maintain our standard of living, and if we are to pay the workers in those industries and keep any semblance of a high level of business activity.
No doubt great problems are staring the government in the face today. It is no wonder that they wish to go to the people before some of these problems come home to us in all their austerity. But perhaps the chief reason why the government wants to go to the country is that the leader of this party (Mr. Drew) has not only put new ginger into the Progressive Conservatives, but has made a great change in the complexion of this whole house. For confirma-
Business of the House
tion of this fact I do not need to look on my own side alone, because Liberal members have said, and their statements have appeared in the press, that there is a great change here and that the leader of the opposition has not only justified all that was expected of him by his supporters, but has proved himself to be one of the greatest political leaders that Canada has ever seen.
Every day in this house we have seen the faults and the errors of the Liberal party exposed. Is it any wonder then, Mr. Chairman, that the government do not wish to see this political strength built up on this side of the house? Therefore they scurry away from parliament, away from answering for their misdeeds and their wrongs, and they seek to go to the country without revealing their situation or giving the elected representatives of the people an opportunity of going into their record.
Perhaps the hon. member would not mind at this moment my proposing that the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again this day. I understand that at seven-thirty private bills will be taken up, and some of them have to do with pipe lines. It might be an advantage to give third reading to the bill respecting oil and gas pipe lines before taking up private bills after the dinner recess.
If I might have the leave of the house I should like to move:
That on Saturday. April 30, 1949, the house do meet at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and that there be the same intermissions and the same order of business and procedure as on Friday, April 29, 1949.
I understand that hon. members would wish to have the international wheat agreement and the North Atlantic treaty, two resolutions which are on the order paper, dealt with. If it were not possible to have that done before the adjournment hour
tonight, under this motion we would be able to continue tomorrow to deal with them. I am asking to do that at this time because there is some legislation that is ready for the royal assent, and if it were known that there would be no sitting tomorrow the royal assent would have to take place tonight. For the purpose of knowing whether or not it will be necessary to be summoned to the other place before half past ten it is desirable to have this motion passed at this time. If it is unnecessary to go on tomorrow I am sure that everybody will be quite happy about it. Hon. members will realize that without this motion we shall have to ask that arrangements be made for the royal assent this evening to such legislation as has already been passed.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: SATURDAY SITTING ON APRIL 30
At seven-thirty an hour will be reserved for private bills pursuant to the standing order, so that we shall have to take up as much of that hour as may be required by the house to consider the private bills which are on the order paper. If it is the desire of the house that at eight-thirty we take up the international wheat agreement and the Atlantic pact, that will be agreeable to us. I would not want to prevent the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Jackman) from continuing his speech, but if it were the desire of the house that we go on with the resolutions I have mentioned, the government would be quite prepared to do so, provided the hon. member did not feel that we were treating him unfairly.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: SATURDAY SITTING ON APRIL 30
The party for which I am speaking at the moment will be very glad to support this motion. We are glad to facilitate the business of the house if we can finish within an hour or two of the ordinary adjournment time tonight. If my understanding is right, the official opposition are not going to allow interim supply but just these two other measures. We are in favour of granting the government interim supply because we think it is preferable to having the caretaker government, as it might be called, carrying on under Governor General's warrants. We think the other is much the preferable way, and we shall do everything possible to facilitate the house, because we want to see the election.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: SATURDAY SITTING ON APRIL 30
I believe that is likely to take less time, and is really more urgent because the deadline there is July 1. Without our ratification before July 1 all the work done in preparing the agreement would fall. If that is the pleasure of the house the government will call the resolution dealing with the international wheat treaty at 8.30, and as soon as it is disposed of, the resolution dealing with the North Atlantic treaty.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: SATURDAY SITTING ON APRIL 30