Mr. ROBINSON (Simcoe East):
If I can get a ton of coal without money it is the same thing to me.
It is with some diffidence, Mr. Speaker, that I rise to offer a few remarks at this late stage of the debate, and I only hope I may be able to make a worth-while contribution. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the previous speakers, and I shall tty to avoid anything of a repetitious nature. I cannot, however, avoid making some reference to what appears to be the main criticism of the budget by hon. members immediately opposite, namely, the charge of lack of economy in public expenditures. This charge was levelled very briefly by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell) in the words, "spend, spend; borrow, borrow, but never save, save," as they appear at page 3215 of Hansard. This has been repeated in various forms, but unfortunately at much greater length, by many hon. members on the opposite side of the house.
It is extremely difficult for me, and I know it will be extremely difficult for the people of this country', to place any credence in a charge
of this kind, when it is directed at the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley). I recall clearly the first occasion upon which I heard him speak. It was some years ago, before he had assumed his present position, at a meeting of service clubs in my' own constituency of Simcoe East. His subject at that time was a comparison of municipal and governmental financing. I can still remember the homely reference he made on that occasion to a rural municipality in his native Nova Scotia. There each taxpayer examined each item of municipal expenditure with an eagle eye, and could calculate to the last penny the effect of such expenditure upon his individual'tax bill. Woe betide the municipal council which made unnecessary disbursements. Those who heard the minister speak on that occasion were convinced that he would apply the same principle of careful scrutiny of expenditures to the broader field of national finance. I am happy to say the people of Canada have given him an opportunity to do so, and in the last few years have entrusted him with the raising and spending of sums of money such as have never before been dreamed of in this country. I do not think there is present in the house, or outside it, anyone who would dare say that the minister did not do a magnificent job.
As I said before, I put no credence in this type of criticism, and I feel sure the people of the country still look to the Minister of Finance as the watchdog of the treasury.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE