Air. ARTHUR BETTEZ (Three Rivers-St. Maurice) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, as a
new member in this House, I think I would not be fulfilling my duty, should I not mingle my voice with those who have preceded and will follow me in this debate, so as to appreciate to the best of my ability the budget which our Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) has just brought down. Rest assured, Sir, that it is not without a certain apprehension that I rise to discuss, in the most moderate way possible this budget, being content with emphasizing the important points and leaving to hon. gentlemen better qualified than myself the task of scrutinizing them more carefully. This budget, I state without fear, has been received by all classes of society with the greatest satisfaction, and has very much alarmed many of our opponents who never expected such important reductions. I am aware that, as in all wordly matters, some details which are not perfect may be found; however, as perfection does not inhabit this world, there can be no reason to worry, for we are free to fill the wants in the next budget, knowing that the Liberal party dislikes to leave a task unfinished.
The Budget-Mr. Bettez
I wish to point out a few of the many reforms carried out. First, there is the total disappearance of the receipt stamp, a rather annoying and expensive formality to our business men. Secondly, there is the reduction from three to two cents on postage stamps, a measure which will be a blessing to everybody on and after July 1. Thirdly, the wiping out, I might say, for the small wage earner, of the income tax and in a reasonable proportion a tax decrease for others, a measure which I advocated in my first speech in this House on February 1, last; a measure which will give to the wage earners more comfort and will help them to provide for the dull days of old age, and, it will leave to others a larger portion of their profits to apply to the development of their trade. Finally we come to this most discussed question of the reduction of customs duty on automobiles, a duty which has been lowered from 35 to 20 per cent on automobiles of less than $1,200, and from 35 to 27J per cent on automobiles of luxury, from $1,200 up.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that under the circumstances, all conscientious manufacturers who do not want to make political capital with this question, will be more than compensated of this decrease in the tariff by the reduction of 25 per cent on all parts imported which enter into the manufacture of automobiles, providing that 50 per cent of said parts is manufactured in Canada. Is that not an incentive afforded to our Canadian manufacturers to the detriment of foreign manufacturers? Is that not, I ask you, a truly national measure which will be beneficial to the Canadian workman who has as much need of protection as the foreign workman? A manufacturer who cannot carry on with a tariff in his favour of 20 to 27-2 per cent, moreover, with the appreciable margin which gives him the freight charges over his foreign competitor, is of very little use to his fellow countrymen.
Do you think, Sir, that we must everlastingly provide such a high rate of protection to that industry which, it is true, employs a great number of people, though, in much smaller numbers, after all, than the citizens which it exploits by means of' such a high tariff?
As a mere suggestion, and as a way out, may I point out the desirability of reducing for this year the tariff on motor trucks only, with the understanding that the reductions mentioned in the budget will but take effect next January 1, on the other automobiles, in order that we may not be taxed with having taken these industries by surprise, and
also in order to allow time for those who have large stocks of automobiles on hand to sell them without too great a loss.
As to the tax on dividends, is it not more equitable to impose a tax on those who are in receipt of dividends than on those who have but their daily wages and have no other revenue bearing assets? The policy of our opponents has always been that of favouring solely the large interests to the detriment of the small wage earners and those deprived of wealth. They would prefer, as the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Clark) stated yesterday, to see the tax paid by a widow possessing absolutely nothing than by a widow drawing dividends. How logical!
One thing which will always reflect shame on the Conservative party, and that the public will not forget for a long time to come, is the exemption from taxation which they granted on the victory bonds, most of which were purchased by friends, war profiteers, of the Conservative government of that day, when it is these same people who should have paid the bill instead of the small industries and wage earners. If the Conservatives had not acted in this manner, the member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Clark) would not have had to deplore, yesterday, the fate of the widows forced to pay a tax on their dividends.
As I am neither a free trader nor an extreme protectionist like our Conservative friends, but rather a moderate protectionist wishing to give fair play to the consumer and the honest manufacturer, I want, on behalf of my county, to congratulate the government on the appointment of a tariff commission which I feel sure, will be able to give us a just and well considered tariff, studying on the spot and separately the numerous questions on tariff affecting our various industries and applying to each of them a tariff in keeping with the needs of the times, in order not only to assure their existence but especially in order to further their expansion.
Mr. Speaker, I am not a follower of those who believe that, alone, a high tariff can ensure our success, but I am one among many who believe in a moderate tariff affording us an oportunity to make treaties with other countries. Such as the treaty with Australia that has been so much criticised since I have been in this House, but which, to my mind, has been most profitable to our country, inasmuch as it has thrown open to us a vast market for the sale of our paper, in quantities such as we have never known before, giving employment to hundreds of thousands
The Budget-Mr. Bettez
of Canadians. In fact, what do we witness since the ratification of these treaties? An ever increasing number of paper mills employing thousands of people. You have quite close to here, at Chelsea and at East Templeton, a company which is going to spend between $20,000,000 and $25,000,000 for the development of that industry, creating a large city of 20,000 to 25,000 of a population, bringing prosperity not only to the citizens of that town but to all those in the neighbourhood, and spreading affluence everywhere in the district. There are, at present, towns like Shawinigan Falls with a population of
14.000, Grand-Mere with a population of
9.000, Cap-de-la-Madeline with 8.000 people, La Tuque with 5,000 of a population, Chicoutimi which has nearly 10,000 of a population, Kenogami, Jonquieres, and many other towns which are centres of paper mills. If we had not those treaties, we would not have such an increase in the number of manufacturers. I must tell you, Sir, that this industry not only supports hundreds of thousands of people, not only does it bring happiness to those employed there, but also to all the farmers in the vicinities of said places where a market is at hand to sell their products among the workmen of the lumber yards; and moreover the farmers can both in winter and summer send their sons to work in the lumber camps. I find evidence of the good results secured through the beneficial policy of the government in my native city itself, in Three Rivers. A few years ago, our municipal valuation was but $14,000,000; to-day it has reached $42,000,000. I must further add, Sir, that the population has increased from 12,000 to 34,000, and this thanks to the beneficial policy of the present government.
Since 1921, American, English and Canadian companies have erected paper mills at a cost of $45,000,000. These mills have an annual output amounting to $25,000,000, and it will reach the figures of $37,000,000 next year. These companies to-day have a payroll amounting to $10,000,000 yearly, and these figures will probably increase to $15,000,000 by next year, as they are at present putting in additional plants. This money is expended within a radius of 100 miles from my home town. Do you not think, Sir, that the farmer, within said radius, gets his share of the profits accruing from such development, since in a great many cases, he works during the winter, with his sons in the lumber camps, and moreover he easily finds a ready market for his products? Do you not think, Sir, that in return he is willing to allow a small portion of the Australian products to enter Canada,
such as, for instance, butter, cheese and eggs, in order that the paper manufacturers who are the mainspring of his livelihood the year around, and who are responsible for his prosperity, may for these considerations be allowed to sell their paper to Australia and other countries?
I have no hesitation in saying that before long Canada shall control the paper industry in America. Are not these advantages granted to Australia and to other countries on their exports of certain farm products to our country more than compensated by the exports to these countries of our manufactured goods? For, after all, the prosperity of our young country will only rest on a sound basis inasmuch as we shall know how to take advantage of our treaties with other nations and mutual concessions shall be made by the various classes inhabiting our Dominion. Even admitting as a fact that the Australian treaty might be a little to the detriment of our farmers, do they not themselves also find it profitable to sell, at better prices, to our workmen their eggs, butter and other products of the farm?
Yes, Mr. Speaker, the benefit of the Liberal policy is felt a little everywhere. Look, for instance, at the phenomenal development which is taking place in the lake St. John district, where at present an aluminum industry is taking root, and expending from $25,000,000 to $30,000,000 for their plants, this will found large towns in localities which yesterday were practically unknown.
There are other signs of the benefit resulting from the carrying out of the Liberal policy; such as a very marked decrease in the operating ratio of the National railways which gives us hope that before long these railways, which w7ere so to speak in bankruptcy when we assumed power, will soon pay their way and contribute to a large extent to the progress and expansion of Canada, thanks to the wise and enlightened policy of our government who have entrusted the management of our railways to very competent men.
A further undeniable proof of the benefit conferred by the Liberal policy, is the marked increase of our exports over our imports, an increase never heard of, up to this day, and which figures out in the $400,000,000.
A number of members on the opposition side have stated that Quebec favours protection. It is so, my county comprising especially the cities of Three Rivers and Shawingan Falls is more in favour of a policy of moderate pro-
The Budget-Mr. Kaiser
tection than of one of profiteering as understood by the opposition, and that is the policy I advocate.
The conscientious manufacturers of my county are in favour of a moderate tariff, giving equally fair play to the consumers. And that is the reason why these two large towns, Three Rivers and Shawinigan Falls, have approved of the Liberal party's policy by a majority of 5,000 votes. And note, it is as a candidate of King that I came forward and not under false colours. The large majority of people in my county are aw^re that it is not under a high tariff that- we shall have prosperity, but under a moderate tariff and especially one which ia well thought out, in conjunction with new treaties, such as that of Australia.
Were we to listen to the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion), Providence alone is responsible for the good work accomplished by the Liberal government.
Other members of the opposition will propound that the Progressives alone are to be thanked for certain changes in the tariff.
I wonder if these people are in earnest and what they think of the mass of the people whom we represent in this House! For, after all, are not the Progressives the representatives of the people to the same extent as any other member and what can be the superiority of other parties over them? Was it not the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) who made the most alluring overtures so as to rally their party to them?
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL