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

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. STEWART ( Argenteuil):

No, not in every case but freight rates are higher. The price of wheat and commodities of that character are somewhat higher. These prices always have been higher although they vary very considerably in a period of years.
There are other conditions, conditions of taxation, that my hon. friends opposite complain very much about. There is, for example, inflated land values that agriculturists in the United States have to contend with but which are not found in Canada, and for that reason the higher prices there are more than offset. Let me say to my hon. friends

for I am getting authentic reports from the United States as to the conditions over there -that I can give statement after statement of individuals who, if they were able to liquidate the properties they hold in the United 17Si
States at a reasonable sum, would be willing to emigrate to Canada at once and who will do so as soon as they conveniently can. So that the prospect for immigration seems to be reasonably reassuring. No matter what may be done in the future in respect to immigration I do not for one moment believe that it is necessary for this country to embark upon a scheme that will involve the borrowing of huge sums of money for the placing of people on the land. I agree very much with my hon. friends opposite that it is better to make the settlers we have happy and contented if that is possible. However, it will not be possible for a few years until they have recovered from the serious depression through which they have passed and the obligations which they undertook during that time.
I have tried to point out in a very brief way some of the difficulties that we must encounter in raising the revenue in an equitable manner. The one complaint made by hon. gentlemen opposite is that the budget is not equitable in its character. It is complained that the duties do not bear heavily enough upon luxuries and that commodities in general use in Canada are too heavily taxed. But the point must be borne in mind that we have in this country no large class of rich people in comparison to the population; that most of the business of the country is carried on very largely by the savings of the people; that most of the deposits in our banks do not represent the money of the wealthy but are rather the accumulation of the saving of the middle-class people. An hon. geptleman who spoke yesterday referred to the taxes as bearing too heavily upon the consumer. Well, I presume we are all consumers in that respect. I made the statement once in the province' of Alberta, in dealing with this question, that if we are to succeed in paying the public debt of Canada every individual in the country will be required to contribute to the public revenue according to his ability. There can be no question about that, and if it is inequitable, then I would like to sit down with hon. members and consider wherein changes can be made, because I think that in a country like Canada you cannot go to the extreme in taxing capital, as has been advocated by some hon. members. I am very much interested in the experiment of public ownership, but our hope for the future depends upon the development of our natural resources, and the individual who has not capital cannot develop these resources. While we are bringing people to Canada for the
2802 COMMONS
The Budget-Mr. Stewart (Argenteuil)
purpose of labour in Canada, and offering them an opportunity in that line, we must bear in mind that it is desirable to attract to Canada capital in a very large way, for the development of these resources. You cannot start a new industry upon labour alone, you must have capital to develop it. If there is need for assistance it is in the earliei stages of development, and if an industry cannot exist after being assisted in the early stages, it should go out of business.
But, hand in hand with the development of Canada we must have the importation into Canada of people and capital as well. The mineral resources of Canada alone will pay the debt of Canada a thousand fold, if properly developed and preserved for the people. Some complaint has been made that we are not conserving as we should the mineral wealth of the country. I have given considerable thought to this matter, and I ask, what have we done in the development of oil alone?-that, perhaps, is a concrete case which might apply to all developments. We have not taken the public funds for the purpose of developing oil, but my hon. friend who preceded me will agree with me that we have made it as easy as possible for capital to come in and start the development work in the search for oil; and if it is discovered, I think the public, after all, are entitled to a fair share of the profit. So far as coal production in Canada is concerned, the provinces that lease their natural resources are taking a toll on coal production-perhaps we should take more. In the case of the timber we are doing the very same thing. The day has long since passed when governments were in the habit of handing out to private individuals the natural resources belonging to the people -where I think they properly belong-and permitting them to be exploited in the interests of private individuals. The hon. member also said that the inheritance tax should be increased.

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