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

PRO

James Steedsman

Progressive

Mr. STEEDSMAN:

I would like to point out to my hon. friend that if the farmers of Manitoba at the present time are in such a condition that they think they cannot wait for the operation of a wheat board, it is all the more reason why they should get relief in some other direction. That I understand is why the wheat board legislation did not pass the House in Manitoba. I say that we will watch with interest the outcome of the royal commission and of the special committee that has been appointed to inquire into lake transportation rates, the grain trade, and agricultural conditions generally.
We believe, too, that this government should come to the assistance of the provinces that they may be enabled to extend their rural credit and farm loan policy to the end that the farmers may be able to secure long term credit with cheaper interest rates, with which to pay off their mortgage indebtedness.
Then too, the prairie provinces should be given their natural resources. That has long been a matter of contention, and we think that now would be a very opportune time for the natural resources to be handed over to the provinces that they may get the benefit of such revenue as may be derived therefrom. That would mean that the municipalities in those provinces might be relieved to a very great extent from the tremendous burden of taxation under which they are labouring at the present time, that our school districts might be able to keep open the schools, many of which are closed at the present time, that we might be able to educate our children.
Now what about the cost of production? In looking over means of bringing down costs, what is more natural than that we should compare prices with those paid by our neighbours to the south of us? I do not intend to detain the House at the present time by making comparisons of prices. My hon. friend from Selkirk (Mr. Bancroft) the *
other evening quoted sufficient figures to convince this House that prices are considerably lower on the other side of the line. Living as I do within a few miles of the boundary line of North Dakota I am in a position to know that the prices he quoted are absolutely correct, and I could give many more instances as well. I know, too, that our neighbours over the line have always been able to buy the necessaries of life, the implements of production, lumber, building material and everything that goes into building up their homes much more cheaply than we could, and moreover they have always or, at all events, have usually been able to command a better price for the products that they had to sell, and their products are the same as ours. Our products have to compete with theirs in the open markets of the world. Is it any wonder that we come to parliament and ask that the duty be removed in order that we may get the benefit of lower prices and get our raw material as cheaply as our neighbours to the south?
It has been suggested by one hon. member, I think it was the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion), that an educational campaign might be carried on among the manufacturers and industrial workers of eastern Canada to induce them to bring down their prices. Well, Mr. Speaker, we think that a more effective way would be to remove the tariff on these articles altogether, and then competition would take care of the prices. It is not particularly that we want to purchase American machinery, because I am sure that the average Canadian would prefer to buy Canadian machinery provided he could get equal quality for the same or very nearly the same price. But we believe that the Canadian manufacturer should be able to compete successfully with the American manufacturer in the home market when he can do it so successfully in the foreign market, especially those companies that have been organized for a great many years and have enjoyed the protection of the tariff during all the years of their existence. When we say, Mr. Speaker, that the principle of protection as a basis for fiscal policy in Canada is unsound, when we say that the condition of the primary industries is such as to demand immediate relief, we believe that there are many members sitting upon the government side of the House who will agree with us in that contention, but we are immediately faced with the problem of how to make up the loss in revenue. In that regard I would just like to say that the people of Canada could afford to pay twice the amount collected in customs revenue under almost any system of direct

The Budget-Mr. Anderson
taxation that the government might see fit to adopt and then be money in pocket. What with the duty, and the profits on duty pyramiding every time the goods are turned over, and the increased cost of goods of the home manufacturer, we believe that it would be quite possible for the people to bear that burden in the form of direct taxation.

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