May 16, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)


Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

My right
hon. friend has had the advantage of having been a member of this House a great deal longer than I. I have never attempted to criticize his administration because I did not come directly in contact with it. But I am speaking of the things whereof I know, and I may say frankly to my right hon. friend that although perhaps on other matters we were never very far apart, on one fundamental issue, I always disagreed with him. He may say that now I have seen the light I am not prepared to go as far as I advocated in former years; but I may inform him that I am still prepared to go all the distance I was always prepared to go when the occasion offers and [Mr C. A. Stewart.]
the time is opportune. But my right hon. friend and his government have made it exceedingly difficult for any administration succeeding them to offer the measure of tariff reduction that I think this country is entitled to and some day must have. What I started to say was that when we have to tackle the job of government, when we are responsible for the budgets to run the country, we have to view everything not from a sectional standpoint but as it may affect our people throughout the length and breadth of the Dominion. That is no new observation, nor do I offer it as such, but I want to deal with our national affairs from that standpoint.
My hon. friend (Mr. Bird) who preceded me last evening intimated that both parties in dealing with public affairs were not just exactly honest wifh themselves or with the people. Well, if the time ever comes when my hon. friend is entrusted with the responsibilities of office he will find that perhaps he will not be able to be so drastic and so radical in his administration as he expresses himself to be when in opposition. I have no serious criticism to offer my hon. friends except in one or two instances. I know somewhat of the responsibilities of carrying on the war, and therefore I am not finding fault with the tremendous financial burden that has followed from the war. But we have to deal with that burden, it is an everyday problem, and for a population of scarcely nine million people the preparation of a budget to meet the ordinary expenses of administration to the extent of $372,000,000 is rather a serious obligation on any government. Not only that, but if the government is fair to the provinces and to the municipalities it must make that burden as light as possible upon all parties concerned, because we cannot forget that our war obligations entail huge expenditures. I have heard those expenditures criticized on the ground that they were not in every case judicious, that great savings might have been effected. And in reply to my hon. friend (Mr. Forke), the leader of the Progressive party, who cited to us the other day the conditions in England, let me say that during the war there was a vast difference between taxation in Canada and in England, in this way, that in England much heavier taxation was levied to meet war expenditure than was attempted here.

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