Hon. R. J. MANION (Fort William):
Mr. Speaker, in the forty minutes at my disposal I shall not attempt to deal at all exhaustively with the financial aspects of the budget. They were dealt with very ably yesterday by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan). He particularly pointed out the fallacy, stated now for two or three years by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb), in regard to the supposed cut in the debt of this country when, as a matter of fact, due to guarantees placed upon bonds for the national railways, bonds upon which the national railways are not paying interest, the debt is really being increased rather than decreased. When the railways reach the stage of paying interest on their bonds, then the Minister .of Finance might be justified in taking the attitude that he does. I do not, however, wish to go further into that matter as the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George elaborated it very thoroughly yesterday, and I have other matters to deal with in regard to the faults and failings of this government which will take me my full forty minutes, and, if I were permitted, would take me three times as long.
The rest of the budget deals largely with matters such as the income tax, and income taxpayers will no doubt be somewhat pleased. As that affects only 200,000 or 225,000 people in this country, it does not affect 97 per cent of the people at all. The corporation tax is another of the same sort. If the reduction in the sales tax had been ample; if it had been along the lines proposed in our amendment, it might have made some difference in the cost of living; but as it is merely a reduction of the sales tax back to the point at which it stood when we went out of power, a reduction of only one per cent from the present rate, I fear that not very much of the reduction will be passed on to the consumers of this country, and, therefore, I am afraid that, as the tax stands to-day, the public generally will not benefit much.
The Budget-Mr. Manion
While the tariff changes may seem minor when one looks at them first, already from reports coming in to members of this house who have in their constituencies mills which are affected by these tariff changes, it looks as if serious injury was once again going to be done by this government to the industrial life of this country. I have incidentally in my hand a report which I received a couple of days ago in the mail. This is the annual report of the Monarch Knitting Company, a company in which many years ago I happened to take a very small block of preferred stock. About the time when this government came into power-I do not say it was exactly at that time-this company stopped paying interest on the preferred stock, and I notice in their financial report this sentence which is worth reading:
We are hopeful that an adjustment of duties at an early date will enable us to secure the portion of the business which we previously enjoyed, but which is now going to countries with a lower standard of wages and living conditions.
I fear the Monarch Knitting Company among others will not derive much benefit from the present budget. As time goes on, the government and the people of this country will find that the reductions in the present tariff, though minor in appearance, will do more injury to the industrial life of our country and drive still greater numbers of our people to the country to the south of us to earn their living which they are denied here at home.
Let me ask the Minister of Finance this: What is there in the whole budget for the ordinary man in the street? The budget is largely a review of conditions as seen through the somewhat prejudiced glasses of the Minister of Finance with the addition of the usual boasts by the minister and the government that such prosperity as the country is enjoying is the result of their good work in governing this country. As a matter of fact, they know as well as we know, and as the people of Canada know full well, that the real improvements, such as they are, that have taken place in conditions in our country have been due to the munificent gifts of nature, to our fertile soil, a salubrious climate, to deep and rich mineral deposits, to our teeming fisheries, and to the luxuriant growth of pulpwood and timber in our country-all nature's gifts merely awaiting the hand of man to turn them into wealth in this magnificently endowed country of ours. We have made this general statement from this side of the house many times, and it has been denied by members on the other side. I do not like to make a general statement without giving fMr. Manion.l
some proofs. I looked up the values of production of various kinds in this country since this government came into power, and I find that in 1922 the total production in all lines was $2,939,000,000. In 1926, the last year for which statistics are available in the statistical branch, the total production was $3,582,000,000, or an increased production of $643,000,000 net.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE