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):

The people will undoubtedly profit by the royalties collected. The Alberta government are collecting a tax of ten cents a ton on coal. Perhaps the people are entitled to more from that commodity; however, that is the tax they have decided to impose, that is what they think fair and reasonable when they allow private individuals to do the development work and carry on the industry. I think that is as it should be. I do not believe we should go entirely into the business of public ownership in connection with all our public utilities and public resources, but we should preserve for the people what they are entitled to from the vast wealth in these resources. I think on the whole the provinces are attending to that feature pretty well.
I have tried to show, Mr. Speaker, tha1 under the circumstances we have made an honest effort to cut down wherever possible in the customs' tariff. Looking to the future when business conditions are different, perhaps greater reductions can be made. But, whoever happens to be Minister of Finance, charged with the responsibility of levying taxation, will always have to bear in mind the conditions of the moment, and not the conditions of the future. Because, unless we increase very rapidly in population-and I hope we shall-and unless our railways begin to produce balances on the right side of the ledger, then the present conditions ate

The Budget-Mr. Stewart (Argenteuil)
bound to recur. I think that the spirit of recklessness that was abroad, has passed away, and that the people realize that due caution must be exercised in the preparation of our budget.
My hon. friends opposite have seen fit to move an amendment, and I have no particular quarrel with their doing so. But in that connection I wish to say something which I intended to say a moment ago with respect to the income tax. I am not altogether satisfied with the income tax as it is constituted. The one man who pays to the utmost limit, who has no escape from the income tax, is the salaried man and, perhaps, he contributes more in that regard than any other individual. On the other hand, I think my hon. friends will find, if they examine the matter carefully, that the income tax hits fairly heavily the man who has a respectable income from all sources, no matter how large it may be, and that he contributes, according to the money he has a pretty respectable proportion, as things go, in the way of taxation. I may say that one hope for the future in Canada is that we have not yet adopted a direct land tax. In the provinces this has been done in a very moderate way. But it leaves an opportunity for the lands of Canada to be developed, and for a livelihood to be obtained from them; and for the next decade or two agricultural conditions will be the barometer by which business and other conditions will be judged in Canada; that is bound to be the fact. That being the case, I think we should leave that field of taxation entirely in the hands of the provinces and the municipalities themselves, for they will need all that the land can stand in the way of taxation for the carrying on of their own affairs.
With regard to the inheritance tax I want to say just a word or two. For years I have had not only a desire but a hope that a very great increase in the inheritance tax might be placed upon estates by the provinces themselves. I know that the statement is made that you cannot collect this tax. Let me assure the House that there is no desire on the part of the federal government at this time to invade this field. I do think, however, there should be as little restriction as possible on the opportunity of a man to make wealth But if he has enjoyed prosperity and has accumulated vast wealth, then there is no reason whatever why the province in which he has acquired it should not in a much larger way than has been the case in the past take for its own benefit, particularly for educational purposes, a greater inheritance tax. But that is outside the field of federal taxation, and I make this statement merely irt answer to my hon. friend, with whom I agree entirely.

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