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


James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)



I very much regret the
speech that has just been made, because I think it will do a great deal of damage. It is made at a time and in an atmosphere when seeds of that kind will, I am afraid, fall on fertile ground. I ask the hon. members of this house to give me a chance to answer this, because I feel a deep responsibility at this moment, and I am going to do the best I can to answer what my hon. friend has said. At a time when we are passing through great disasters we are asking the people of the Dominion of Canada to bear great burdens. We have laid down a basis for our fiscal policy. We did that before the war, and we reasoned these matters out with great care in speech after speech that I and my colleagues made. We examined carefully the proposals that my hon. friend has made-he has not made them, so far as I know, until now, but others have been making them from before the war in practically the same form- we have had committees on them, and we have looked at them from every point of view. We came to the conclusion

in this we were agreed with by the experts of the dominion government, the United Kingdom government, the government of the United States, the governments of the other dominions and, so far as I know, the governments of every democratic country-that by all means the fairest way of financing the war was by taxation and by borrowing. We have given our reasons why that is so.
If a country devotes its assets, devotes its resources, human and material, to the carrying on of a war to the greatest extent to which it is capable, the real costs of that war are not monetary; they are costs in men and property which the country has devoted to the carrying on of the war. The more of their output that they put into war, the less there will be for the people who stay at home. That may become less and less, and the standard of living of the people may go down and down. How will that go down? In what way will that burden be apportioned? There is no escape whatever from the burden. When the country produces as much as it can, if it devotes 46 per cent, then 50 per cent, then 60 per cent of that output to the war, the proportion left for the people at home goes down, and an ever-increasing burden is placed upon the backs of the men, women and children of the country. That is inescapable. We are talking about realities. This is not a question of money at all; it is a question of things and people. It is elemental. We are just confusing it if we think it is a question of money.

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