April 7, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

Donald Alexander Mackinnon

Liberal

Mr. D. A. MACKINNON (Queens):

Mr. Speaker, the problem of finance is always an important one in Canada, and it is getting more complex as the amounts involved become increasingly larger than those of olden times. I think the proposal of the minister who is chargeable with the finances of the country, having to do'with methods of obtaining revenue, is a very good one, namely, to have the assistance of a board of experts who will be able to take up the different items that compose the imports of the country, go into them carefully, and, if they are men of ability and experience in handling tariffs, come to sound and reasonable conclusions. Such men should not be hard to find. In fact, the minister no doubt has in his own department men of ability and experience, but the volume of the work has increased so much that I think it would pay the country well to have such a commission as is proposed by the minister.
I have taken the trouble to look into some of the items of import with a view to understanding the matter thoroughly. I examined the figures with respect to entries for horses and I found that in one case there were $9,000,000 and in another $99,000. It might be thought from these figures that horses could be taxed very heavily and that quite a revenue could thus be provided, but I found upon investigation that most of these horses came in only temporarily, for exhibition purposes and for races, and had gone out of the country afterwards. In fact, the $99,000 was represented by only 123 horses, so that it would not be possible to obtain much of a revenue from an item like that. I mention this only to emphasize the fact that if a commission of, say, three men go into these matters item by item they will know where to recommend an increase and where to recommend a decrease in the duty without resulting disadvantage to any part of the country.
We may have different ideas. There is a school of thought very strongly for free trade, and there is a school of thought very strongly
for protection. We have these two schools, and they are both entitled to their opinion. If the school for protection had had their way last year and had made the duties very high, so that we would have had, say, $100,000,000 of a surplus last year due to protection, it would of course be a great thing to reduce the public debt by that amount, but that burden would have had to come on the people in some way or other, and I think they are not able to stand $100,000,000 more being taken from them through higher tariff duties at the present time. But this board could consider, for instance, the question whether it would be advisable to have free trade within the empire, and propositions of that kind which might help us a great deal in working together. It might take up the proposition whether the tariff should be increased in any one item or another, or reduced. They could take up all these questions and advise the minister and the government on the matter. I need not say anything more on that subject. I think it is a good idea to have this board appointed, for it is a killing business for the Minister of Finance to undertake all this work alone as the head of the department, and we could not long expect to get good men to undertake all this work if the entire burden was left on their shoulders.
I think the Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) is also entitled to a great deal of credit in connection with the handling of some of these loans. He had made a saving of 82,500,000 in interest in the loans he has floated, and I think he is to be commended for that. I observe, however, that the loans are floated for short periods, some for so many months, and some for so many years. I would submit with all respect that in Canada to-day, or as soon after this as we can do, a loan of $1,000,000,000 at 3-J per cent should be floated for a term of fifty or sixty years. I think that loan would be taken up. A loan of that kind over a long period would shift the burden, as only the immediate interest would have to paid and there would be a provision for repayment of the principal of the loan in half that period, if need be; but I think we should look ahead and have a long-term loan made by our Finance department in Canada. I think it would be a great help to this country. We are now paying a large amount of interest on our loans, and it is too much for the country to do that and to keep the other necessary works of the country well in hand. In floating a loan like that, it may be a little difficult to find the money, and it will be more difficult still if we go round decrying the country.

The Budget-Mr. Mackinnon
Canada, is destined to be a great country and, I think, is fundamentally sound, if you compare our situation with that of the other nations of the world. Canada is no longer the small colony she was a few years ago. She stands to-day-such was the statement made by a noted man who is well up in finance-seventh amongst the nations of the world in wealth. I think his estimate was put at twenty-two billions of dollars. That is a very good standing for this country amongst the nations of the world, when we have been a nation for only fifty or sixty years. The wealth of the country is the first thing I look at, for in floating a large loan over a long period the wealth of the country would need to be looked into. During the past year we have heard people saying that the country is going back, that business is going back. Let us look at the trade of the country during the past year. I think you will find there is an increase in the totai trade of about $205,000,000 over the year before, and of about $450,000,000 over the year before that. That is very satisfactory. It does not show the country is going back if the trade is increasing. Our trade is up now to almost two billions of dollars, and a country that is doing two billion dollars of trade is no mean country. It is a great country, and it is a country we should do our utmost to clear the way for so that it will advance in commerce more rapidly and more clear of the difficulties which are in the way to-day, and to which I am going to refer a little later. Our imports and exports amount in round figures to $1,900,000,000, or almost $2,000,000,000. It is, I think, very gratifying that our trade should amount to such an immense sum. Not only that, but look at the different places where we carry on trade. We look first to our neighbours across the line, the United States. Some people do not like to deal there. I have heard some speakers express the view that they live within themselves over there. President Coolidge has said that they could produce enough within the country itself for their own needs. But that is a very selfish and limited life. We are going in for a larger life in this northern country, if that is their idea in the United States. If you look at what our people are doing to-day, and have been doing in the past year, you will find' that we are dealing not only with the United States but with all the different parts of the world, with China, Japan, the countries beyond the South Sea Islands, with every continent, with Asia, Africa, and South America as well as Europe. It is wonderful the way our trade has ex-
panded.' I think it is a great proof of the shrewdness and ability of the business men of Canada. And the work of these business men .is being helped to its utmost by the Minister of Trade and Commerce in this government.
Now look at our trade with the United States. I look upon them as a very fine people to trade with. Canada did break their windows at one time, about 1911, when they looked through for reciprocal trade, and I think by their Fordney-McCumber bill they retaliated and put their tariff a little bit higher than they might otherwise have done. You find that three and a half millions of the people across the line are Canadians or descendants of Canadians. I saw a precise statement as to the number some time ago, and I think it wonderful that so many of our people should be over there. They hire good people to deal with, and they have not gone over there within the last year, but they have been going over continually ever since that country became a republic. The statement of which I have spoken gave the numbers of the people coming into the United States from all the countries outside, from Japan and the different countries in Europe. The people over there are our nearest and friendliest people to deal with, not only the American-Canadians but the Americans themselves. They are sympathetic in their dealings with us, and we are dealing with them to the extent of about one-half our foreign trade, to the amount of almost one billion dollars. We should do everything to make that trade grow. We should do everything to maintain fair and reasonable relations with them. We should take care that everything we send them is of the best workmanship, the very best our manufacturers can put up. We do not want shoes or boots to go across the line with their heels made of paper, as I heard one man down the street say the heels of a pair of Canadian boots he purchased the other day were.

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