Mr. MAXIME RAYMOND (Beauharnois) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) concluded his speech on the budget by advising economy. J think we all agree in admitting that he himself gave the example by his brief speech. In less than thirty-five minutes, he gave a clear and precise
statement of Canada's financial and economic conditions; he showed with figures and facts to back it, that our finances were gradually improving and that, generally speaking, the country's affairs were prosperous. His statement, clear as to what relates to the past, optimistic as to the future, is of a nature to rejoice and encourage us.
Even though his speech was brief, it lacked neither value nor interest on that account- he however furnished matter for a long debate, and really I would have hesitated to rise at this phase of the debate, if it were not for the fact that the discussion on the budget proposals affords one of the few opportunities to members who sit in the rear of the ministerial benches to publicly express their views and put forth the suggestions which they believe to be in the general interest.
The study of the budget proposals shows that, under the Liberal administration, which followed those of the hons. Borden and Meighen, the period of deficits gave way to one of surpluses, our credit has been reestablished, and from the economic viewpoint, Canada occupies one of the most enviable places among the nations of the world. In opposition to this state of affairs, those who aspire to replace the present administration have had but criticisms to offer and nothing to suggest. It is moreover the candid admission of the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion). Most of these critics have already been answered and I shall content myself with stating that in all public or private administration, the important factor is that revenues should exceed expenditures. That is how we distinguish a good administration from a bad one, and great credit must be given to the present administration for having succeeded in balancing the budget and keeping it balanced, while decreasing our debt and the rates of taxation.
The hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Caban) moved an amendment in which regrets alone are expressed. One cannot carry on a government with these, and I confess that simply voting to pass regrets does not move me much. He regrets that the sales tax was not entirely wiped out. Yet, the hon. member is sufficiently acquainted with business methods to know that this total elimination would have brought on confusion in trade and bankruptcy among a great number of business concerns. Therefore, it is not to be thought of or desirable, and the Minister of Finance was quite wise in gradually decreasing it. He also regrets that the government does not find more work for our people. Is he not the one who taunted
The Budget-Mr. Raymond
the government for having reduced the tariff on automobiles, reductions which increased production and gave more work to our people. Finally, he regrets the unemployment, the emigration of our people and the absence of immigration. As regards unemployment, reports are contradictory; however, I note that it exists among our neighbours, the United States, a country that the opposition often take a delight to cite as an example of prosperity. I read in the Boston Post of February 8 last, that according to the incorporated Labour Bureau they, at present, estimate the number of unemployed in the United States at 4,000,000. As to emigration, it is established that it is gradually dwindling down, and that a large number of those who had left are returning.
However, what may be the case, it is important that we should know the real causes, so that we may be able to apply the best remedy. I shall not discuss the universal remedy of the Conservatives, which is protection; it is to them what Pain Killer was long ago in our rural districts, a cure-all.
The emigration of our people to the United States since 1919, is the ransom of war. Think over it, and you will find that war, the badly managed and exaggerated participation in it, is the principal and real cause of the exodus of our people to the United States. It took from our rural districts the young men to send them either to the battlefields or to cities, in the munition works. After demobilization, a great number who had borne arms, having acquired a likinig for travelling and adventure, refused to return to the land. While those who had gone to work in the cities, in the munition shops, found themselves without work. They had acquired a taste for city life, large salaries, luxury, but they had lost the one for the soil, and neither would they return to the farm. Owing to our exaggerated participation, wasteful and unforeseeing administration during that period, when the government carried on simply with borrowed capital instead of taxing war profiteers, trade and business were depressed; we were left with an enormous public debt, our currency had depreciated; while the United States which had entered the conflict a long time after us and in proportion to their means, found themselves in a far better economic situation. Their industries had not been disturbed and their currency was at par. It was then that we witnessed these young men, who had left the land, take the roads leading to the neighbouring republic.
Add to this the vilifying discouraging campaign, and forecasts of ruin by the Con-
servatives, and you will find therein the principal causes of the emigration of our people to the United States. Our friends in the opposition are rather late in giving the alarm. It is a war debt that we are paying off; it is a sequel to their acts. Note that between 1900 and 1914, United States citizens were immigrating to Canada. Farmers from Kansas, Dakota and Minnesota, had sold their farms at good prices to come to Western Canada and purchase other farms on better terms. A good proportion of the immigration during that period came from the United States.
The best means to stop emigration, and relieve unemployment if it exists, would be to bring the people back to the land. How are we to do it? By a campaign of education: Point out the beauties of rural life; show the advantages of owning property to counterbalance the desire for pleasures which the city offers. _ Through the efficient help of our public authorities, in establishing farm credits, allowing farmers long term loans to help them to establish themselves on farms, short term loans to purchase live stock and necessary implements, and current loans for the purchase of seeds and fertilizers. Our Rural Credit is a great step in that respect; with experience, it can possibly be improved and provide for all cases of need. Let the government grant, to city people who have previously lived in the country, the same advantages and even more than to strangers; let the government offer to transport free the families of people wishing to settle in the west or in more remote parts of their province, where, with the help of long term loans, they may settle decently and cultivate those lands. Our generosity, I think, should first be extended to our own people.
By teaching the art of agriculture in a way that it can be understood by all, and which includes new and more remunerative methods of farming. Take for instance Denmark, a small country forty five times smaller than the province of Quebec, but with the same population, where they specialize in dairy farming, they have succeeded in increasing the butter production, since 1891, at the rate of 249 per cent, while the number of cows have increased only 29 per cent. Let us give our farmers every possible chance of success.
Let us now deal with the question of immigration, a question both economic and social which should be borne in mind by all those who take an interest in the country's future.
For those who see in the rapid increase of the population, an opportunity to increase
The Budget-Mr. Raymond
their fortune, the selection of immigrants carries no weight; but to those whose aim is higher and better, who foresee the more populated Canada of to-morrow, co-operating in the common work of civilization, they find matter to ponder over and they advise caution. Hence, two schools: one would open wide the gates to immigrants, the other-and I congratulate the government of belonging to the latter-would restrict immigration.
The vastness and wealth of our country are not questioned, yet our population is not in proportion with our natural resources. How are we to increase it? By natural increase? It would be the best means which could be advocated, it is the normal development of a country; but it is found too slow a method. By immigration? That is another way, but what kind of immigration? To have no restriction would have the effect to draw the scum of other countries, the undesirable, the habitual unemployed, who would come and overcrowd our cities, and who always end by crowding the hospials or jails, and become a charge to society. Moreover, if national unity be considered, the peopling of Canada through the means of an intense immigration, is not desirable. A certain proportion must be kept between natural increase and increase by immigration; time must be given to assimilate the new element.
At six o'clock the house took recess.
The house resumed at eight o'clock.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE