June 9, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

PRO

John Morrison

Progressive

Mr. MORRISON:

I am not an Imperial statesman, and I am not prepared to answer every question that may be thrown at me from all sides of the House. I am not solving the British problems or suggesting a remedy for conditions over there.
The figures I have quoted show that \the customs tariff is inadequate to raise revenue. Our patriotic manufacturers simply frustrate the apparent intent of the Customs Act by taking unto themselves through its operation a great deal of the revenue. I think that an excise duty should be put on those goods when they have demonstrated that they can compete in the world's open market. If they would only charge the market value for their goods in Canada they would have the jump on the outside fellow to the extent of fifteen per cent, and a lot more goods would be bought from them. As a result would there not be more land brought under cultivation? I think so. If that was done, if they would sell to us at the real market value, then their outside competitors would have to pay the duties imposed by this country. But to-day, the American manufacturer gets as much for his goods f.o.b. from the Canadian farmer as he gets from the Dakota farmer. Then, who pays the customs duties? The American manufacturer? Not much; he passes it right on to me. At the same time that is not the worst of it. We have to pay more than the actual value of these goods to the home manufacturer. I submit that is one of the chief reasons why Canada is not flourishing. I would like to see some of my hon. friends that are high protectionists farming out in the West beside me. I think, like Saul, most of them would see a great light; they would not only be converted, but they would become regenerated and sanctified Progressives.
We have about 40,000 miles of railway in Canada, with 200 people to the mile. The expense of running this government is increasing year by year, and it is puzzling our best men to know how to raise the revenue. It is pretty hard to get the perspective of this whole situation. We know we cannot lower our tariff to let in other nations' goods, but one of the big fundamental difficulties we are labouring under is that our overhead is killing us. Supposing we were directors of any company and the industry had developed to
The Budget-Mr. Morrison

the extent of about twenty or twenty-five per cent, that our overhead was such that we could not meet expenses, but still we ran along for forty years, what would the shareholders say at the annual meeting? They would say " You fellows are all right, you are getting your salary, and what more should you care?" If this country had such a policy that we could get all our natural industries under full development there would be work for everybody. The reason people are flocking to the cities is because lots of them in the poorer rural districts cannot make a living on the farm. There is a big district not very far from my constituency where the people abandoned the country on a strip of about ten miles wide. The land was not as good as elsewhere and did not hold the moisture for as many days as necessary, and therefore they abandoned it. There are other districts not so bad as that where the people engaged in farming are merely eking out an existence. Then there are small districts, under better conditions, where the farmers are making a little money but the general rank and file of them are hard up. We have been losing money there within the last few years, and before that many of the farmers never made any. Now, I submit that conditions are fundamentally wrong, and the experience of the past forty years has demonstrated the truth of that statement, My right hon. friend the leader of the official Opposition stated that we could not compete with the industries in the United States. He said that that country was developed from eleven to fifteen times beyond what Canada was commercially, and I think, perhaps, that is a proper statement; at any rate it is near enough for me to use for the purposes of illustration. My right hon. friend would not admit that the United States has from eleven to fifteen times the natural resources that Canada has. I do not know what percentage of good land Canada has, but it is one-half as much at least as the United States has. We had British goodwill behind us all the time, we had British capita], we had British immigrants coming here, and we had protection. Why should Canada not have developed a little more as compared with the United States?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Full View