November 6, 1919 (13th Parliament, 3rd Session)

CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

No, that is not charity. It is something that I feel the returned soldier is entitled to, and I think we can very well afford1 it. I would like to make some suggestions later along that line. I believe that we might receive a large amount of revenue in addition to what is necessary to carry on the work of the Government.
I know that in presenting their applications to the committee, one section of the Great War Veterans suggested that the man who went to France should receive $2,000, the man who went to England $1,500, and the man who remained in Canada, $1,000. The payment of these gratuities would require a very large amount, which I think was estimated at $800,000,000. We all feel the country cannot afford to make such a huge expenditure as that. Another branch of the organization were a little more modest; and were not disposed to make such an extreme demand; what they asked for was considerably less but it would perhaps total three or four hundred million dollars. Still another branch of the organization were even more modest in their proposition which would have involved the payment of a lesser sum than would the second of these other requests1. I am yet more modest in my views than either of these three, and I suggest that we can afford to repeat the gratuity that we have already granted. The Great War Veterans object to the grant which has been recommended of some $40,000,000, and personally I do not think it should be applied in the way proposed, because it appears to be too much like charity. I think that after paying due regard to all the facts of the case, and duly weighing the views of the various members of the House and the suggestions they have advanced as to how the needed revenue might be raised, it is

not unreasonable that we should give the extra gratuity. It is better to do that than to have our veterans walking the streets and asking for charity. If we allowed that condition of affairs to prevail it would be a calamity and a disgrace to Canada. I think the Great War Veterans deserve better of this country than to be handed out anything that would have the remotest resemblance to charity. I think Canada should pay to the extent that she is able to do, and that it is possible for her to find the necessary funds for the purpose. A great many people advance the argument that Canada is not able to pay any further gratuity. According to the report of the committee which is now before us it was thought $35,000,000 would be the limit; but after second thought, and without any serious investigation on the part of those concerned, this amount was advanced to $50,000,000. If it was possible to make this jump of a few millions so easily without further investigation, it is possble to agree upon $153,000,000 and give the soldiers another grant equal to what they have already been receiving.
It now becomes my duty to advance some suggestions as to the sources from which we might derive further revenue. Those suggestions may not appeal to members generally; and though from some sources the revenue yielded may appear to be small yet in the aggregate they will yield a very large amount.
First, I would apply a special tax on all farm lands throughout Canada.

Topic:   THE SUGAR SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE ON SOLDIERS' CIVIL RE-ESTABLISHMENT.
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