March 9, 1915 (12th Parliament, 5th Session)


George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)


The reverend editor of the Globe sitting in the gallery encouraging hon. gentlemen by his smiles, and perhaps even by his enthusiastic applause. Therefore I think I can refer to him as the outside leader, without being offensive. Here is what he said on the 10th of last month. The editorial is headed: " When to Spend Public Money," and is as follows:
The time to spend public money freely is when private enterprise is on the ebb. If governments and public bodies enter upon huge programmes of public works when a building boom and a rush of railway construction are in progress the inevitable result is to attract to the country far more workers than it can provide employment for under normal conditions, and so to intensify the depression which follows boom conditions.
This is precisely what is happening in Canada today. The estimates introduced by the Minister of Finance make provision for carrying on public works begun in former years, but the financial situation is so difficult that practically no new works are to he begun during 1915 at the very time when the need for employment is greater than ever before in the experience of the building trades throughout Canadian cities.
It would be peanut politics to attempt to make party capital out of the situation. No Government in Canada, Liberal or Conservative, has ever deliberately curtailed expenditures upon public works in good times so that it might more freely provide employment during seasons of depression. In all probability this failure to take thought of the morrow has been the result of the belief of politicians that hard times dog their opponents only, and that the remedy may well be left for their opponents' consideration. The interests of the nation should be placed above party, however, and the Globe would like to see a healthy growth of public opinion in favour of husbanding the resources of the Dominion, the provinces, and the municipalities in boom periods so that public works may be undertaken at seasons of the greatest need. The work carried forward at such seasons would be done more cheaply and more thoroughly than under conditions of abnormal activity and would render unnecessary the spending of vast sums on maintaining willing workmen in idleness.. .

There are many organizations engaged in the study of social conditions-Conservation Commissions, Unemployment Commissions, Social Service Commissions. They could do nothing more calculated to fill up the valleys of depression than to secure that public employment shall be at the minimum in Canada when private employment is at the maximum, and that the stress of hard times should be lessened by the construction of public works during seasons of depression.
And yet, in the face of this pronouncement- by the Globe, hon. gentlemen opposite are -endeavouring to induce this Government to lessen its expenditure and to reduce work in this country to a minimum, thereby throwing tens of thousands of Canadians out of employment. The reverend gentleman who wrote that article described the conduct- of hon. gentlemen opposite as " peanut politics," -and I commend -that description to them. No more unpatriotic move -could be made by any man or body of men in Canada than to endeavour to induce municipalities or governments to curtail expenditure in these trying times. I believe it to be the duty of every great city, every municipality, and every government in Canada, to spend every dollar they honestly can on legitimate works, for the purpose of providing labour for our people. We cannot afford to lower the standard of our workingmen, by making them subjects for charity.
I wish Mr. Speaker, to devote a little time to making a comparison between the records of lion, gentlemen who occupy so serenely the Opposition benches to-day, when they were in power with the record of the Conservative Government now in office. The junior member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean) had tile temerity to chide the Conservative party for having violated its preelection pledges. I wonder where the Liberal party stands in that respect. Let me refer to some of the promises made by the Liberal party before they came into power in 1896, and how well they implemented them. It will be remembered that fust previous to the election of 1896, and many of us are old enough to remember that campaign, these hon. gentlemen, having been for eighteen long years, in the cold shades of opposition, travelled throughout Canada and in every city, every village, and every concession, preached to the farmers the doctrine of discontent, trying to make them believe that they were the men who were paying the taxes and were being bled white by this awful protective tariff, and promising what they would do to relieve the situation if they came to office. I rpiote from one of the planks in the Liberal platform of 1893!

We cannot but view with alarm the large increase in the public debt and the controllable annual expenditure of the Dominion; we demand the strictest economy in the administration of the government of the country.
That is an admirable declaration for a political platform, and one which if lived up to would have redounded to the credit of the Liberal party. But what was their record when they came to power? In 1896, when the Liberals assumed office, the public accounts show that the national debt of Canada stood at $258,000,000, and in 1911, when they went out of office, they had managed, not to decrease the national debt, but to increase it to $340,000,000, or an increase of $82,000,000 during the fifteen years they were in power. But that does not tell one-half the tale. The Conservative Government had been in office for eighteen years, and it had laid the foundation of Canada's greatness, so that prosperity was in full tide when the Liberals came to power, and with a buoyant revenue the Liberal party that was pledged to reduce taxation and expenditure took out of the pockets of the taxpayers of this country, in the ten years immediately preceding their defeat in 1911, $311,486,000 more than the Conservative party took in any ten years previous to 1896. Therefore, when you add this
to the $82,000,000 of national debt, which they heaped upon this country, you can form some idea of the manner in which the Liberals implemented their pledge of economy to the people of Canada. I believe the Liberals never intended to carry out that pledge; it is quite clear to-day that the pledge was made to catch votes, and in that they succeeded. But the Liberal party stands before this country guilty of having violated every pledge they gave to the people of Canada previous to 1896. But that is not all. These gentlemen opposite have now the temerity to charge the Conservative Government with having increased the public debt 'since it came into office. True, this Government has increased the public debt, but let us see why. I find, on looking over the official returns, that on the 31st of March, 1912, the first year the present Government was responsible for the expenditure, the public debt stood at $339,919,460, and on the 28tli of February just past, the debt had risen to $401,891,909, or an increase of $61,972,000 in the last three years.
But, Mr. Speaker, how was this debt increased and what was the cause of the increase? Tne increased debt under the Conservative Government, was incurred

entirely for the purpose of taking care of liabilities left to it by the Liberal party when it went out of office. It was a legacy, Sir, left to this Government, and this Government was in honour obliged to accept it and provide for it. I shall give to the House a statement of what it has cost this Government to care for some of the undertakings that the Liberal Government rushed into so recklessly, previous to their defeat in 1911. In order to care for these liabilities left them by the Liberals, it was necessary to provide no less a sum than $178,000,000. For the fiscal years 1912-13 and 1914-15 we find the following expenditures on works which were in progress when the present Government came to power; on the National Transcontinental railway which was undertaken by the Liberal Government against the advice of the Conservative party; the present Government expended $56,000,000, and on the Hudson Bay railway $9,000,000.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
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