March 18, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I am bound to say that if there is not more consolation for that grand old island across the sea in the matter of public expenditure, than there is for Canada in the Budget speech which the hon. gentleman has presented to-day, Ireland will not have much to comfort herself with.
Before dealing with the main matter in the Budget speech, I wish to make an observation or two about the tariff relations between Canada and Germany. It seems to me remarkably late in the day for the Finance Minister to arrive at the conclusion that the position taken by Canada in this respect should be pressed upon the attention of the German government. For about three years Canada has been excluded from the benefits of the German minimum tariff, and although we on this side had pressed the matter on the attention of this government session after session, the Minister of Finance is only now awakening to the fact that it is desirable to bring the true state of affairs to the attention of the German government. We have been urging upon the hon. gentleman and upon the government for three years past that this matter should be dealt with vigorously and promptly ; and though it is somewhat late in the day for the Canadian government to think of taking action, it is better late than never, and I hope our government will move at once.
The Minister of Finance asserted that the census returns are disappointing. They are disappointing to all of us. But when the hon. gentleman asserts that the increase is due entirely to the last five years he asserts that the official statements which have from time to time been presented by the government are absolutely misleading and inaccurate. We all know that the Minister of Finance does not mean anything of the kind, and that it is a mere catch cry to save himself from the position in which he would be placed if we referred to the criticism of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) made ten years ago. But even for the purposes of a catch cry, it is hardly worth while for

my hon. friend to descend to a statement which is so far from the true facts as that which he has made to-day. He also referred to the post office deficit of $489,000 ; but he omitted to tell us that the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock), during the election in the year 1900, told us that the Post Office Department would be self-sustaining. That indicated that the hon. Postmaster General was nearly $500,000 out in regard to the revenues and expenses of his own department ; and I do not know that it is much of a compliment from the Minister of Finance to the Postmaster General.
Now, I am not going to follow my hon. friend, the Minister of Finance, in a great many of the comparative statements he has made. I wish, in the first place, to say a word or two about the general prosperity of this country and of the world. We, as well as the hon. gentleman who has just spoken, congratulate, not the government, but the country, on the splendid prosperity which has prevailed throughout Canada during the past year. We are not behindhand in doing our duty in that respect; but when my hon. friend, as well as the hon. gentlemen behind him, seem to suggest that this prosperity is in any way due to the present government or to any measure which they have brought down, they lay themselves open to fair criticism. Why, Mr. Speaker, a cock crowing at dawn might think his efforts occasioned, because they preceded, the rising of the sun. It would be just as reasonable for the cock to congratulate himself on the rising of the sun on that particular morning ns for my hon. friend to congratulate the government of this country upon the prosperity which has prevailed throughout Canada and throughout the world. That particular chanticleer would crow on a certain morning when the sun rose, and my hon. friend happens to be Finance Minister of Canada during a period of great prosperity not only in Canada but throughout the world; and I venture to say that there is just as much cause for congratulation in the one case as there is in the other.
With regard to the expansion of trade, my hon. friend has submitted figures to us with which we are very much pleased in some respects, though not in others, as I shall endeavour to show a little later on. In years gone by my hon. friend has presented diagrams to the House showing the enormous expansion in the trade and revenue of the country since 1896. I have sometimes been tempted to inquire why it is that my hon. friend has never seen fit to present to this House a diagram showing the increased expenditure and the increased taxation of this country from 1896 to the present time.

Subtopic:   EXPORTS.
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