July 15, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Arthur Graeme Slaght



I have gone on much longer than I intended, Mr. Chairman. But let me show you what we have been doing under this frenzied system since 1910. This picture is a vivid one because I am speaking only of dominion debt, and leaving out provincial and municipal debts. In 1910 our dominion debt amounted to $341,000,000; in 1920, $1,935,000,000; in 1930, $2,261,000,000; in 1940, $4,062,000,000; and in 1942, as set out in the appendix, $5,866,000,000. Where do we go from here?
Someone may suggest, "Oh, if you issue national currency you are going to give the workingman of this country pockets full of money." Does anyone suggest that when the workingman gets through paying his taxes under this budget he is going to have too much money to spend; that he is going to become reckless Li his expenditures after paying these taxes? This budget is going to be a financial strain. It is going to be the toughest budget the Canadian workingman or anybody else ever tried to bear up under, and yet they are going to take it, and take it with a cutting down of their expenditures on luxuries and all that sort of thing, which the Minister of Finance is very properly advising us all to cut down on.
I want to say this, that rather than deprive the soldier of the $50, and the married man of a decent allowance to support his wife and children, I would raise the income tax a little higher on incomes in the upper brackets -raise the taxes on the men who have as against the men who have not. I am prepared to support that proposition if needs be. The minister seems to be amused by my language, but I tell him I am sincere in making this suggestion. My hon. friend the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation group has said more than once that it is not what you tax a man that counts but what he has left after he has paid his taxes, and surely that is good gospel in war time. I would impress upon the minister in the most sincere way, if he feels that to meet the increases I have spoken of, because of the losses that will follow them, he must raise

more money by borrowing, not to do so, but to issue national currency instead. We have outstanding now in national currency $515,000,000, and that is all. That works out at $43 per head for every man, woman and child of our eleven and a half million people. That $515,000,000 is made up of $470,000,000 of paper currency and $45,000,000 of silver and copper coins, because we have no gold coins now, and that $515,000,000 is all the national currency we have outstanding. The United States with their tremendous wealth and greater population have outstanding in national currency an amount which works out at $88 per head of their 130,000,000 people. That is the situation in the United States, so there is no parallel whatsoever.
Somebody says, "What is the harm in issuing a lot more debt for Canada to pay out?" I give credit to the Minister of Finance for doing this, that he has got the debt owed by this country into the hands of Canadian people instead of into the hands of people in New York and London. That was a wonderful thing to do; the debt is nearly all now in the hands of Canadian people.
Somebody says, "If the Canadian government collects from the Canadian people $1,850,000,000 by way of bonds, with a yoke of interest to pay for twenty years, then the Canadian people own $1,850,000,000, and all is well. Everything is all right; you have done no harm to anybody." But that dog won't bark, and for this reason. I have some figures dealing with the distribution. I am sorry I do not have them here, but I got them from the authorities. The Minister of Finance recognizes the problem of where the interest-bearing debt obligation is owned and held.

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