May 3, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition) :

Mr. Speaker, I should like to join with other hon. members who have expressed pleasure at the recovery of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning), and the pleasure of the whole house at seeing him looking quite healthy and still in his seat.
The budget, sir, is always awaited anxiously, because like one's own personal budget the national financial statement is the people's business. It is more our business than any other matter except those that concern our own personal affairs. It is the nation's balance sheet, reviewing the past and forecasting the future, indicating particularly whether any new taxes are to be levied or any existing taxes removed, whether there are to be any tariff changes that may affect us all. This budget has been described many times in this debate as colourless and innocuous, and the favourite description seems to have been that it is a dismal type of budget. With that I wholly agree; for it has been a disappointing budget in its results, barren of ideas and lacking entirely in originality. In that sense it is, to my mind, the weakest budget we have had in this house in the last twenty-five or thirty years.
There is sufficient reading matter in the budget, if one reads the tables, to occupy about three hours, yet only one idea was suggested, beyond pious platitudes and oratorical appeals for courage and leadership, which the minister himself and the government seem to lack, and appeals to business, which business seems somewhat to resent. The one idea was that of deducting from income tax for the next three years capital expenditures made by business concerns during the present year. That proposal has been played up, and is the only idea in the budget that is at all out of the ordinary. But I point out this: Of course the Minister of Finance could not know that it is not a new idea; it is an idea we considered when we were in power. I do not remember the year, but I think it was in 1934 that we considered the idea very fully and decided it was not a proper provision to incorporate in the budget at that time. However, that is neither here nor there.
But in the national employment commission report made to the government on January 26, 1938, (his idea was proposed exactly as

The Budget-Mr. Manion
it is incorporated in the budget to-day. That was sixteen months ago. Let me read two or three lines to illustrate, from page 36 of that report:
The commission desires to direct the attention of the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations to the possibilities of granting some relief under the income tax for expenditures actually made in replacing obsolete industrial equipment. It suggests that a special allowance might be made under the income tax law for expenditures made in replacing obsolete plant and equipment. Such expenditures might be deducted from income before the income tax is computed, but only to the extent of the value which had not yet been written off in depreciation and only if and when the asset be actually replaced. It would of course be necessary that such a privilege should be restricted to periods of depression and unemployment.
It goes on to elaborate the idea. I mention that because I think the national employment commission should have been given some credit for it. After all, credit should be given where credit is due; and while I admit that there is nothing new under the sun, it might have been better to say that this was one idea out of twelve or fifteen proposals of the national employment commission which the government are attempting to put into effect. It is clear that the government have no ideas of their own, no originality; they merely grab whatever idea anyone puts up before them.
As I was thinking of this the other day I remembered a bird I used to hear of when I was a youngster-the cowbird. It is the one parasitic bird that we have. It does not build a nest of its own or care for its own young, but hunts up the nest of another bird and when the other bird is not there it drops its egg into the nest-

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