April 24, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Halifax):

paid considerably less than $60,000,000 on account of opr war expenditures - from the beginning up to the present time. Now, it is a fair question to put to this House and to the country: With our expenditures on war account, great as they are, and with this country so prosperous, whether it is satisfactory that we should have contributed out of our revenue toward that expenditure only $60,000,000 or less? Are we now doing our full duty, or are we leaving too much to the future to pay? I believe that we are borrowing too -much and paying too little.
There are facts which should be carefully considered in this connection. Aifter the war, we shall have a national debt of from $1,300,000,000 to $1,500,000,000, with charges for interest and pensions approximating, as I have already pointed out, $100,000,000 a year, which must be paid and for which the people must be taxed. We shall have a simalfex -supply of capital, interest rates will be higher, -and tihe productive capacity of the country will be less. The transition from a state of peace to -a state of war was made easier in our case by the absorption qf men into the army, but the transition in the reverse direction will be complicated, not only by the discharge of munition workers from their employment, but in addition there will be the demobilization of the army. These are important facts and should be considered in discussing the question whether we should or should not now tax ourselves more in order to pay a greater portion of our war obligations than we are paying. We must further remember that the immense expenditure for war which is being added to our debt is unproductive. It leaves us richer in ideals and in history, it is true, but in a monetary sense the expenditure is unproductive. If the *amount which we -are obliged to borrow for war purposes were expended in the construction of railways, the development of agriculture, and the establishment of industrial enterprises, it would add to the productive power of industry and trade thus making it relatively easier to meet interest and sinking fund charges upon the debt. With these things in mind, i-s the Government policy with respect to taxation for war expenditure the correct one? Is it one which is approved by the best judgment of our people? Are we not handing down to posterity the obligation to pay too largely for our patriotic performances?
Taking the position, as I do, that we are not presently contributing sufficiently to
[Mr. A. K. Maclean 1
war expenditures, I realize that hon. gentlemen opposite will naturally inquire what *suggestion hon. members on this side would make, what policy they would propound. In the first place I assert, and this ,is but a repetition of what we on this side have said on every budget deliverance of the Minister of Finance since the beginning of tile war, there should he further retrenchment in civil expenditure so as to leave a greater amount to apply to war expenditures, thus minimizing the additions to our delbt. We have presented this view in the past, generally and in detail, and there *is no necessity fox me to repeat at length these arguments, nor do I intend to do so. Some little improvement has been made, and I think hon. gentlemen on this side of the Hou-se have reason tp feel gratified that their criticisms in this respect in the past, have borne some fruit at least.
Our consolidated fund account expenditure for the last year amounted to $122,392,000. Our interest charges and pensions, due to the war and payable in the last fiscal year, amounted to $14,500,000; at least that is what 1 make it from an official statement furnished me, although I understood the Minister of Finance to say this afternoon that it amounted to $25,000,000. But, I think $14,500,000 represents the actual additional amounts chargeable to war and paid on interest and pension account for 'the year ended March 31 last. If you deduct this $14,500,000 from the $122,392,000, the total amount of the consolidated fund expenditure last year, you have a net consolidated fund account expenditure of $107,482,000, not a cent of whicli is attributable to war. The question naturally arises, and I put it to the House, if that is a fair amount for this country to expend in war days, a sum which is above the amount expended for similar purposes in days of peace, and when the country was growing and developing in population and in wealth, and when every branch of the public service was adequately fed. In 1910 our expenditures on consolidated fund account amounted to $79,411,000; in 1911 to $87,774,000 and in 1912, to $98,161,000. These were prosperous days in Canada; they were days of peace. Am I making an extravagant statement when I say that in the year ended March 31 last, having in view the circumstances and conditions prevailing, $107,-
482,000 was an expenditure for ordinary purposes which w7as unnecessarily excessive. If that had been reduced to the amount of the expenditure in 1910, our sur-

plus for this year, instead of being $60,000,000, would have been over $80,000,000, and that we would have reduced the national debt to that further extent.
On previous occasions I have discussed with some particularity the financial operations of some of the departments of Government. I find that still there is very little reduction, if any, in many departmental expenditures, and it is very difficult for me to understand why this should be so, because in several of these departments at least there is not the peace time activity, and there is not accordingly the necessity for the same volume of expenditure as in days of peace. I find that our Immigration expenditures for 1911 and 1917 are practically the same, the difference being only $68. In 1911 I suppose our immigrants numbered
300,000 or more-I am speaking from memory only-last year our immigration did not much exceed 50,000. The quarantine branch expenditures are practically the same as in peace days notwithstanding the fact that at our national ports we have no immigration. I suppose if one took the time to inquire why there was no diminution in the expenditure of this particular branch of the Government one would find that at the ports of Halifax, St. John and Quebec we have quarantine officers who are being paid the usual salaries which they received in peace days, notwithstanding the fact that there is absolutely no immigration at any of these ports, and there has been none practically during the last three years, yet these quarantine officers, I believe it would be found, are being paid for services which are not performed. The expenses of administration of the Indian department are a little larger than they were in 1911, a circumstance which is difficult to understand and more difficult to explain. The Dominion Lands expenditures to-day are greater than in 1911 notwithstanding the fact that our lands entries in the Canadian Northwest are necessarily far below those of peace days, the natural result of the loss of immigration. In the Public Works Department there was last year a very substantial reduction, a reduction which should have been commenced immediately after the beginning of the war. I might inform the Minister of Finance that the Public Works Department made unnecessary expenditures in 1915 and 1916 which will exceed the amount he will likely obtain next year from the taxation proposals which he announced to-day. We find that public works expenditures on consolidated fund account are still practically spending what it was in 1911. I have not the figures before me, but they are somewhere about $8,000,000. I repeat what I have said on many other occasions when discussing the budget that there is no reason why the expenditures of this department should not be very much reduced below what they were last year, and they were very considerably below
what they were the previous year. I find that the Post Office Department expenses were greater than in 1911, or 1912, by about $6,000,000. I do not intend to refer to the departmental expenditure at greater length. I have said what I have largely to again impress upon the Government if I can the fact that the method of procuring money to meet war expenditures and to keep the national debt down to the minimum, is to retrench in our civil expenditures, and I submit to-day, as I have oftentimes done in the past, that there is an opportunity for a saving of $25,000,000 in that field, which is a very substantial sum, and it should be saved.
It should be said that very substantial reductions have been made in two or three branches of the public service; but they were forced reductions, they were unavoidable. For instance, in the fiscal year ending in 1917 the expenditures on account of the militia were $3,800,000. In 1914 the expenditures for militia were $11,000,000. Here we find a saving of over $7,000,000 in one department alone. That, of course, was a forced reduction in expenditure. It was inevitable, it was unavoidable. Similar reductions have occurred in respect of the naval service, in respect of steamboat mail subsidies; and were it not for the fact that in respect of these three branches of the public service savings aggregating ten or eleven million dollars, have been forced, there would have been, in reality, no reduction in the civil expenditures of the country as compared with the expenditures of former years.
One cannot but ask: Why are not some very substantial reductions being made in our ordinary expenditures? I think I have established pretty clearly, and pointed out, I trust, in a very fair way, that there is an opportunity of administrative retrenchment which would amount to $25,000,000 or $30,000,000, and naturally I ask: Why is this not done? I submit that if the Government made up its mind to be'bold and strong in the crisis and to part company with patronage and party considerations, this could be done, and that if patronage and

party considerations were eliminated from war expenditures we would be relieved of adding to our public debt a sum which would approximate over $100,000,000. The announcement of the application of $60,000,000, being the surplus, towards the reduction of our war expenditures was received with much gratification by hon gentlemen opposite. But that is no proof or evidence of proper administration upon the part of the Government. The statement I make is that instead of the application of a surplus of $60,000,000, there should have been an application of a sum of considerably over $100,000,000, and that would have been more gratifying still to hon. gentlemen opposite, as it would have been to hon. gentlemen upon this side of the House.
Upon the occasion of the Budget debate last year, we received from the Minister of Trade and Commerce some encouragement that hereafter there would be an elimination of party and political considerations in the expenditure of public money, particularly in these days. I should like to read to the House, in order that hon. members may not forget, the very noble utterance, the solemn exhortations, of the Minister of Trade and Commerce upon that occasion directed largely to his own colleagues in the Government and his friends behind him, in respect to this phase of public affairs. He said:
Now, as to patronage, I have been thirty-four years in public life; I have to n a pretty close student of political parties and political history in this country, and I have simply this to say-* I give it as my individual opinion-I have long felt it and I feel it now

that in the whole course of my political life I cannot point to a single, instance where political patronage ever raised the status of the bench, ever promoted the efficiency of the Civil Service, ever helped to economy in administration or enhanced the status of public administrators, no matter what functions they performed, ever helped a member of Parliament in reality, or ever strengthened a) Government in reality. On the contrary it almost always causes the dry rot and disintegra-' tion that break up government after government and party after party, and I wish now, in the white heat and light of this great contest and struggle and the self-sacrifice that we are called upon to make, that we might speak from the heart out, and make an agreement in this country between both parties, that hereafter patronage shall not be applied by political parties in the administration of our public services.
I had hoped for much from these remarks of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, given to the House last year. I had hoped that he would have been a powerful influence in translating this solemn exhortation into actual practice. I had hoped that he would have exercised a favourable

and compelling influence upon his colleagues towards the elimination of patronage and waste in respect to Government expenditure. But, the Minister of Trade and Commerce has been on -many and on long journeys since then. I fear he is absorbed in visionary occupations which consume too much altogether of his time and energy and which apparently up to this date have all been barren of result, so far as the good of the country is concerned, jft would seem that the solemn injunctions of the Minister of Trade and Commerce last year and the practice of the Government in this respect are practically two separate currents, running in absolutely opposite directions and seldom, if ever, gliding into one another. A great gulf, I am sorry to say, separates the preachments of the Minister of Trade and Commerce and the actual practice of the Government in this respect to war expenditure during the year that has jusit closed. In respect to war expenditures I wish to submit, though I do not propose discussing the matter in detail, that we still find partisanship and patronage entwining their vulgar forms around the beautiful administrative ideals which the Minister of Trade and Commerce held up to our adoration last year and which he exhorted the Government to adopt.
I notice upon the Order Paper a Bill .standing in the name of the Minister of Railways, entitled " An Act to Encourage and Assist the Improvement of Highways." I have not seen the Bill, but, according to the newspapers, it involves a contemplated expenditure of $10,000,000.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Subtopic:   ANNUAL STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF FINANCE.
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