June 1, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)


Right Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, the amendments made by the senate to this bill are, in my opinion, far beyond ordinary modifications, as they alter periods during which certain income taxes shall be levied. They are not in the nature of fees or penalties imposed to punish certain offences, which this house sometimes accepts under protest. There was in the bill, as passed by this house, a clause providing that all its sections, except 16 and 17, shall be applicable to the income of the year 1938. The senate's amendment provides that section 6 shall be applicable to the income of the year 1939. This amendment changes the financial scheme submitted by the government and affects the balance of ways and means needed for the service of the year.
The action taken by the senate is inconsistent, I believe, with the undeniable control exercised by the elected representatives of the people over taxation and all financial measures.
The privilege of the House of Commons in this regard is based upon the fact that the house is composed of popularly elected members.
As Redlich, volume III, pages 119-120, says:
All taxes, duties and grants of money, and all measures imposing financial burdens on the people are matters within the sole jurisdiction of the House of Commons. Closely connected with the first of the Commons' rights in money matters is a second, inseparable from it and equally fundamental. They are entitled to order and dispose how the national revenue, whether permanent or annually granted, is to be spent, and to do so in the greatest detail.
Both income and expenditure are therefore completely and exclusively in the hands of the House of Commons.
The House of Commons, adhering to the British North America Act and the fundamental principles of responsible government; cannot renounce its inalienable right to initiate and regulate taxation, and it has never acknowledged the right of the senate to pass legislation imposing a charge upon the people.
Were the session not so near prorogation we should certainly refuse to accept this amendment; but a conference with the upper house for the discussion of this important question would last several days. It is hoped, however, that the senate will not persist in future in a course which we deem contrary to the principles of parliamentary practice and

Income War Tax
which may lead to constitutional conflicts. The motion to concur in the amendment, with this reservation, will be .made by the Minister of National Revenue.

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