Mr. MACDONALD (Cape Breton):
As I was saying, I live in probably one of the greatest in-shore fisheries in the maritime provinces, and I feel it my duty to raise my voice in protest against the budget proposals of this government as presented by the Minister of Finance, because they offer no assistance to any of these great industries. I fully expected that at this session of the house the government would fulfil the solemn
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
promises which they made to the people of the maritimes on the hustings in that portion of the Dominion from time to time; practically every Liberal candidate promised definite and practical relief to the long suffering industries of the* maritime provinces. The Prime Minister also made the solemn promise that he would fully implement the findings of the Duncan commission, and he made special reference to our coal and steel industries, stating that because of the uncertainty of the conditions then surrounding those industries he would defer action until a settlement was reached.
In this suggestion the majority of our maritime members concurred, and we gave our whole-hearted support to the government. During last session we on this side of the house refrained from embarrassing the government with our endeavours to secure those rights which Sir Andrew Duncan and his associates declared were ours, but we did so only because of the definite promises made by the Prime Minister that he would fully implement the findings of that important commission. This is the third budget which has been presented to this house, Mr. Speaker, which shows the complete indifference of this government to the industrial development of Nova Scotia. The budget of 1924 when first introduced purported to deprive the agricultural implement industry of a considerable proportion of the meagre tariff protection it enjoyed, and this was done at a time when unemployment was rife in many of our industrial centres. Protests poured in to the government from manufacturers of farm implements, among which the voice of Hon. Vincent Massey was undoubtedly heard. And so great was the political pressure exerted that the government granted compensation to these manufacturers by placing iron and steel on the free list when used for the production of farm machinery. The net result was that a serious blow was struck at the iron and steel industry of the province of Nova Scotia, the effects of which are only too well known to all who are acquainted with the resultant economic conditions in that province.
It is distinctly disappointing to the people of Nova Scotia that this budget contains no mention of relief to the steel or coal industry, and gives no evidence that the government has paid the slightest regard to the recommendations in the report of the Duncan commission for prompt tariff consideration for those basic industries. The only tariff change in the budget relating to coal or steel is the provision of a drawback of 99 per cent of the duty on bituminous coal used in the evaporation of salt produced in Canada.
Once again, Mr. Speaker, our Nova Scotia coal industry has been made to suffer in the interests of an industry which finds its chief centre1 in the province of Ontario. May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that the Duncan report contained a definite recommendation that a bounty equivalent to 50 cents per ton on Canadian coal used in the production of steel should be1 granted for the encouragement of both our coal and steel industries in the province of Nova Scotia. You will find that recommendation at page 38 of the report. Last year the Prime Minister excused the government's failure to implement the recommendations of the Duncan commission by pointing out the unsettled state of the Nova Scotia steel industry. This pretext no longer exists. From a statement made in this house by the1 hon. Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) I would infer that the government definitely refuses to apply the remedy which a commission of its own creation recommended should be applied for the upbuilding of the Nova Scotia steel industry until certain additional steps are' taken by the group in control of these industries. One of the minister's objections was the inflation of capitalization and the unwieldy and complex organization which groups some fourteen companies under one head. I should like to remind the Minister of National Defence that at the time this huge merger was mooted in 1920 the Liberal government of Nova Scotia of which he was then a member passed enabling legislation which brought about the creation of the very corporation which he now criticizes. If my memory serves me correctly, my hon. friend voted for the passage of that enabling legislation, and he now has the temerity to stand up in this house and take the attitude that the industrial workers of the province of Nova Scotia must continue to suffer hardship, misery and want solely on account of conditions which a Nova Scotia Liberal government, of which he was a member, were instrumental in bringing into being. I may tell my hon. friend that the very objections which he now raises were forcibly brought to the attention of his government and himself by the local opposition of which I was at that time a member, and I considered it my duty to vote against the legislation which was then enacted by the legislature.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to another great industry in my native province for which this budget makes no provision beyond a few items which practically have no importance or significance, and that is the fisheries of the maritime provinces. One would be led to believe from the proposals
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
of the present budget that such an industry did not even exist, and from the past actions of this government it is obvious that industry has never given it very much concern. Sir Andrew Rae Duncan in his report to the government claims that the fisheries of the maritimes, in extent, in quality and in value, constitute one of our most important natural resources. According to figures compiled by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics and issued by this government there are 20,000 people in Nova Scotia alone who gain their livelihood in this industry, and the market value of their products is some $12,500,000 annually. This great industry is today on the decline, especially that portion of it known as our inshore fisheries. This can be evidenced by the number of closed homes in many of our fishing districts. Since 1914, according to the returns of Mr. Ward Fisher, fisheries inspector for the province of Nova Scotia, some 10,000 persons have left the industry. The war accounted for some of these, but the great majority were compelled, on account of the meagre returns which they received for their labours, to go to the United States where, under the protection of the Fordney tariff, they could receive a remuneration and enjoy a standard of living such as was not afforded to them in their native province. The county of Richmond has suffered probably, more in this respect than any portion of the province of Nova Scotia. In 1910 the number of fishermen employed was 2,113, and 212 people in our lobster canning industry. In 1921 there were 1,752 fishermen, employed and 164 men employed in our lobster canning industry. In 1926, the latest year for which returns are available, the number of fishermen had fallen to 1,370, and in the lobster canning indusary 120, and I am afraid it will be found that later returns will bring the number of fishermen in the splendid constituency of Richmond-West Cape Breton under 1,000. In one school section alone in little over a two-months period, 33 children moved to the United States together with their parents.
This condition was brought strikingly before the government by the Duncan commission. In the session of 1927 the government promised, through the Prime Minister, to take immediate action to remedy these deplorable conditions. The Prime Minister, while stating his willingness to do everything possible for the industry, threw in the teeth of every Nova Scotian the fact that the province of Nova Scotia rejected the proposed reciprocity agreement in 1911. Is the Prime Minister aware of the fact that that agreement did not grant the province
of Nova Scotia any concession in respect to fisheries that it did not enjoy from 1912 to 1922? When the Fordney tariff went into effect in 1922, it deprived Nova Scotia of a large market in the United States. What did this government do? It lamented, as at present, the defeat of reciprocity. Had it taken the initiative at that time, it would have sought out other markets in other parts of the world. The Fordney tariff rates were imposed at the instigation of the American Fishermen's Union, and this same union in 1921-22 would have compelled the high tariff government of the United States to abrogate the gentlemen's agreement which had been entered into with the Laurier-Fielding administration. This is the fate which has overtaken practically every trade treaty which Canada has entered into with the United States. The reason why the people of Nova Scotia rejected the reciprocity treaty was because they knew it could be abrogated at will; they had had the experience of what had befallen the reciprocity treaty of 1854. The people of Nova Scotia wanted something of a more definite nature than that which our Liberal friends offered. The Duncan commission asked for a separate Department of Fisheries under the head of the deputy minister, a man with practical fishing experience, who could make a survey of the industry and be in close personal touch with the conditions as they exist in the maritime provinces. On page 34 of the revised Hansard of 1927 the Prime Minister is reported as stating:
The commission's recommendation with respect to the appointment of a deputy minister whose duties will be confined to what at present constitutes the fisheries section of the Department of Marine and Fisheries, will be carried out.
This was on the 18th March, 1927, just a year ago. This is another promise of a Liberal administration that has not yet been fulfilled. I should like to ask whether public utterances, and as in this case, very definite promises made to this house and to the country, are to be held thus lightly?
As was stated by the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr. Ernst), the Nova Scotia inshore fishing industry in the autumn of 1927 was in such a deplorable condition that indignation meetings were held in various places and, viewing the condition of the people in the fishing districts, the clergy of the diocese of Antigonish sent a resolution to this government demanding the appointment of another commission. In this they were backed by the provincial government who helped them in every possible way to organize an effective fishermen's union. I do not intend at the present moment to go into the
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
order in council appointing the commission, or to dwell upon its political complexion. Suffice it for me to say that the great bulk of the fishermen of Nova Scotia do not want and, indeed, emphatically resent their industry being made a political football.
It was not my intention to speak on the fisheries Until the report of the commission was brought down, but I have not the least expectation in the world that this report will be tabled during this session of the house. The commissioners are now in Montreal, housed in the Windsor hotel at the expense of this country, and they are in a quandary as to what to recommend as a solution to remedy the existing state of affairs. This industry must wait another year before anything of a definite nature is to be done and I feel that the government is only sparring for time in order to make another political gesture to (the fishermen of the maritimes. May I say to my hon. friends opposite that we of the maritimes have had too many political gestures thrown our way? What we want now is definite, immediate remedial action, and if that is not forthcoming, the few seats which this government holds in the maritimes will be even fewer than they are to-day when the next appeal is made to the province of Nova Scotia.
The hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg has made to this government certain suggestions every one of which, as a representative of a fishing community, I most heartily endorse. I would go even further and ask that fish landed from foreign beam trawlers, dry fish imported from Newfoundland, and fish shipped into central Canada from the United States, pay as high a duty as Canadian fish entering the United States. I would also ask that our fishermen be given long-term loans, such as have been granted to our Canadian farmers, in order to enable the fisherman to equip himself to prosecute his calling successfully. I would suggest also that a form of fishermen's insurance be created, because, as the law exists to-day, only tonnage boats can be insured, and as the majority of our inshore fishermen do not come under this classification they have no means of protecting themselves against loss. I also strongly urge that the twenty per cent reduction recommended by the Duncan report on westbound traffic be made to apply to fish from the maritime provinces routed to United States points.
The question of transportation should be taken up by the government and greater cold storage facilities provided. The salt and dried fish industry is practically a thing of the past, and if a fresh fish industry is to be maintained in the maritimes we must have
refrigerator boats and cold storage facilities. The government will tell us that this will necessitate a raid on the treasury. Let me tell my hon. friends opposite, and especially that group which sits in the far corner, that this industry has an interest in the treasury of Canada to the extent of around $4,000,000, and I feel that this money should be used for the development of cold storage facilities and cold storage transportation for the inshore fishermen of the maritime provinces. Under the Halifax award in 1873, $4,525,000 was placed at the disposal of the government of Canada for compensation due to injuries suffered by the fishing industry of the maritime provinces. From November 21, 1878 to May 17, 1882, the Dominion government had sole use of this money. In 1882 a portion of the interest on this money was by act of parliament made available in the form of bounties to the fishermen, the amount so used being $160,000 per annum. The point to note is that at five per cent per annum, which would be a reasonable interest return, the amount available for distribution should have been $226,250, without the principal being touched. Thus for forty-five years, from 1882 to 1927, the Dominion treasury has been enriched, at the expense of the fishermen of the maritimes, to the extent of $66,250 per annum. From 1878 to 1882, a period of four years during which no bounty was paid, the treasury profited to the extent of $905,000. In other words, there is a sum of accrued interest approximating over $4,000,000 rightly belonging to the fishermen of the maritime provinces. The legislature of Nova Scotia passed a resolution in 1921 supporting this contention and in the same year a similar resolution was passed by the government of Prince Edward Island. I claim that this money rightfully belongs to the maritimes and it should be either given to bonus the industry or used for facilities which will benefit the fishermen of the maritime provinces as a whole. Furthermore I contend that fishermen from the colony of Newfoundland should be precluded from sharing in this bounty when fishing aboard Nova Scotia fishing vesels during their seasonal employment in Nova Scotia fisheries.
The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) on Monday last made some reference to the fisheries of Nova Scotia. Those references consisted largely of time-worn platitudes and an attempt to belittle constructive suggestions put forward by an hon. member on this side of the house. One point in the minister's speech that stood out above all others was the studious way in which he
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
skated over and avoided the greatest question before the fishing industry of the province, that of the beam trawler. Not only this house but 16,000 fishermen in Nova Scotia are wondering to-day where he stands. The hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg brought to the attention of the house the fact that the fishermen of Nova Scotia, and of the eastern part in particular, have been subjected to most unfair competition by landings of fish duty free from foreign trawlers. Does the Minister of National Defence approve duty free landing of fish by trawlers owned outside of Canada? He will have an opportunity to declare himself in that regard. The people of Nova Scotia and especially our 16,000 fishermen, would like to know where he stands. Why did the minister not declare himself on a second matter of very vital importance to the fishermen of Nova Scotia, namely, that of the institution of a department of fisheries with a responsible minister at its head? From his remarks it may be inferred that he was fairly well acquainted with the evidence given before the commission, but he did not mention anything about the appointment of a deputy minister as recommended by the Duncan commission or the establishment of a department of fisheries with a responsible minister at its head.
As to the inspection of fish and fish products, the minister said this was already being done. The only inspection that is being made is an inspection of pickled fish, and this has been done in a haphazard manner, and very often by political appointees with no fitness for the position, with the result that the inspection has been practically valueless. It is true that in Canso and Hawkesbury a fresh fish inspector was appointed last summer to inspect fresh fish landings in connection with the government fish collection experiments there, but the fact remains that this was an isolated instance, and that there is to-day no such thing as the inspection and grading of fresh fish, dried fish, or smoked fish products.
The minister boasts of the scientific research which is being carried on. No one belittles the work which is being attempted, but it is only a beginning. Included under this heading are such subjects as a complete survey of our foreshore to determine the extent of our resources-for example, of our scallop beds; a study of fish life, and a determination as to when depletion begins and conservation becomes essential; experimentation in the cure, marketing and packing of all kinds of fish, and provision by the establishment of competent inspectors in fishing communities for bringing home to the practical worker the results achieved.
The hon. minister dealt with another topic, that of markets, and boasts of what has been achieved. Does he not realize that while shipments of fresh frozen fish have increased, the entire benefit has gone to a few corporations, and was very largely the result of the landings by foreign trawlers? The problem of marketing is allied to that of transportation. Markets must be developed, particularly at home, by education and devising means of transportation, so that when they are developed the benefit may be passed on to the thousands of our fishemen who await and need them, and not be swallowed up, as in the past, by the charter of a few more European trawlers.
The minister talked of progress and improvement. Where does he find that improvement? Certainly not in the conditions of the thousands of fishermen scattered along our coast line. The minister boasts of the encouragement which this government has given the industry. Let me say that if these boasts are all the hon. minister has to offer, and if we are to have only the same kind of progress and achievement during the next five years, heaven help the fishermen 1 Why talk of steady progress and achievement when we have lost, in twelve years, 10,000 of our fishermen?
I should like to say a few words with regard to providing medical attention for our sick fishermen. Dominion legislation provides for what is known as a sick mariners' fund, to which the owners of shipping schooners in our interprovincial coastal trade contribute. It also applies to fishermen of tonnage ships. This is of great benefit to our sick seamen. We also have the hospital ship for the care and attention of our deep sea fishermen. The Workmen's Compensation Act in our province as it stands at present cannot be taken advantage of by our inshore fishermen because they are not employers of labour. Generally the fisherman himself is the labourer, and in order to come under the Workmen's Compensation Act he must employ three or more labourers; and then he would not as an an employer be eligible himself. In any event the fee demanded by the various compensation boards is prohibitive, and if made compulsory would put the fishermen at a great disadvantage. Even then no provision would be made-for sickness; accidents only woflld be taken care of. I have found in my fifteen years of practice among the fishermen of this country that accident is the exception. What we have to contend with is sickness brought on by the hazardous occupation which the fisherman is compelled to pursue in order to
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
gain a livelihood. Secondly, the fisherman, being underpaid for his services, is-together with his family-undernourished. Tuberculosis is prevalent among our fishermen; it is one of the most deadly diseases encountered in our fishing districts. Our fishing villages, located generally around our indentations and bays, are in most instances far removed from medical care. The poor fisherman, with the meagre earnings of to-day, is not in a position to secure the medical aid he requires for the protection of himself and his family. I would suggest to the government that our fishermen be placed on an equal footing in that respect with the deep sea fishermen, and that either a contributory system be adopted or a certain proportion of the Halifax award be utilized for the purpose of caring for our sick and invalid fishermen and their families.
With respect to railway transportation, I have in my hand a resolution passed by the municipal council of the county of Richmond, Cape Breton, as follows:
Whereas the fisheries of Isle Madame and contiguous waters in the county of Richmond are an invaluable asset to this municipality and the entire Dominion as well, and
Whereas the farmers of Richmond, keeping pace with the times, are conducting operations on a vaster scale than heretofore, but
Whereas many farmers from the eastern sections have left their farms being unable to carry on their agricultural activities at a profit owing to lack of railway accommodation, and Whereas the pulpwood, gypsum and other mineral resources of the county of Richmond are boundless, but their development is impeded owing to lack of adequate railway accommodation east of St. Peter's on the Canadian National Line, therefore,
Resolved, that this council in annual session convened, hereby memorializes the federal government to extend the present line of railway to St. Peter's eastward as far as Louisburg or Sydney, and to construct a branch into Arichat. the shiretown of Richmond, to be operated in conjunction with the main trunk line inasmuch as the federal government has acquired the present line to St. Peter's making it an integral part of our Canadian National Railways system, further,
Resolved, that the said government be memorialized to refund to this municipality the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars-$10,000- borrowed to pay for the right-of-way when the said line was opened in 1903, further,
Resolved, that this council considers these demands neither unreasonable nor unjust, but the just deserts of the county of Richmond as an integral part of this great Dominion, with a right to its existence and an opportunity to W'ork #ut its destiny as at present incorporated, and further,
Resolved, that copies of these resolves be forwarded to the Minister of Railways at Ottawa, and to every federal member in Nova Scotia with the request that they work in season and out of season for the consummation of these ideals so dear to our hearts and so vital to our interests.
Briefly, the resolution recommends that this government take under consideration the advisability of extending the Cape Breton railway, which now runs from Point Tupper to St. Peter's, eastward as far as Louisburg. The resolution also asks that the sum of ten thousand dollars which was borrowed by the municipality of Richmond to pay for the right of way when the Cape Breton line was built in 1903, be refunded to the municipality by the federal government, and further, that a branch of this railway be extended to Arichat, the shire town of the municipality. The construction of such a railway would be of great benefit to the fishing industry of Isle Madame, on which our shire town of Arichat is located, and also to the various fishing communities lying between St. Peter's and the town of Louidburg. The fishermen along this coast require railway transportation. A large proportion of the best farms and farming land in Cape Breton west and Richmond lies along the proposed route of this railway extension. There is available in this section of the country sufficient pulpwood to keep a 150 ton per day pulp mill going for the next forty years. This large pulpwood reserve cannot be utilized except by the construction of a railway. Almost every variety of mineral ore is to be found in this region, zinc, copper, lead, manganese, limestone, iron, coal, as well as building material. As regards some of these minerals, we are already beyond the prospecting stage. That vast quantities of zinc, lead and copper exist there, has been proven by a large corporation now carrying on operations in this district; I refer to the British Metals Corporation. They have spent upwards of $200,000 in development work in this district during the past year, and it is their intention to operate on a large scale as soon as spring opens. The industrial development of this area has been seriously hampered during the last few years owing to the lack of transportation facilities, and it is to be hoped that this government will immediately take steps to remedy the existing unsatisfactory state of affairs.
As regards the $10,000 claim which the municipality of Richmond holds against this government, I might explain that the municipality, having been refused consideration in the matter of railway facilities by both federal and provincial governments, guaranteed free right of way to any corporation that would undertake the building of a railway. A corporation was organized for this purpose, and the road was built as far as St. Peter's. The municipality of Richmond expended $10,000 in buying the freehold for the present right of way from Point Tupper to St. Peter's. The
The Budget-Mr. Howard
road was completed in 1903, and was operated by the Cape Breton railway company up to 1920 when it was acquired by the federal government and incorporated into the Canadian National railway system, and the municipality of Richmond claim, together with myself, that the federal government should now reimburse the municipality for the amount of money expended in acquiring this right of way. I may say, Mr. Speaker, that I strongly support the claim.
In 1926, under the Conservative regime, I brought the matter to the attention of the acting minister of railways, with the result that a departmental official was sent into the municipality. After consultation with the municipal authorities and going into the matter personally he recommended favourably to the Railway department. I would ask the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Dunning) to take the matter under favourable consideration and reimburse the municipality of Richmond for the money they expended in this connection. I do not feel that we are under any obligation to the revenues of Canada for any favours granted us in this respect, for the reason that valuable rolling stock, right of way and railway rights were acquired by the federal government in 1920 for the paltry sum of $100,000, and the railway has proven under Canadian National management to have been an asset rather than an encumbrance. I have it on authority that during the last year this was one of the few branch lines that earned operating expenses and was not a burden on the Canadian National railway system or on the treasury of this country.
Mr. CHARLES B. HOWARD (Sherbrooke): Mr. Speaker, permit me for a few minutes to join with those who have preceded me in congratulating the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) on the splendid budget that he has again given to the people of Canada. Not only do I congratulate him on this budget, I congratulate the entire government on. the success of its administration. It has frequently been said that they have been able to retain power, but it must also be said that they have been able to demonstrate by the increasing prosperity of the Dominion that Liberal principles are conducive to such general prosperity. The government have been able to provide for the necessary expenditures and at the same time reduce the net debt by $42,000,000, thus saving in interest at least $2,000,000 that otherwise would have had to be paid by our people. Even more important than this is the Finance minister's outlook on the future, for he states that on the estimated revenues for the fiscal year 1927-28 he believes that next year he will be
able to make a further reduction in taxation of at least $19,000,000.
Hon. members on the other side of the house have tried hard to show-and this point was particularly stressed by the member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan)-that the net debt instead of having been decreased has been increased on account of the guarantees of Canadian National Railway bonds. In this connection I wish to quote a few lines from the speech of the hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) to make clear the situation. He said:
All the debt of the Canadian National Railways to the people of Canada is now_ treated as part of the net debt of the Dominion. . . that portion of the debt of the Canadian National Railways which is owed to the public, and on which the railway is earning the interest, is not a part of the net debt of Canada, but is a charge against the railway.
And rightly so. But the hon. Minister of Railways was perhaps too considerate of hon. members opposite or too gentle in his manner to make a contrast between the condition of the Canadian National Railways to-day and in the past, something that I claim is most important to consider in the interests of the taxpayer. The facts of the case are these. In 1921 under Tory administration $42,000,000 was taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers to pay the railway deficit, while to-day the system has earned $42,000,000, enough money to pay interest on all the debentures in the hands of the public. And this in spite of the fact that between 1921 and to-day freight rates generally have been considerably reduced. As to the condition of the railways of Canada to-day, I would quote from the Montreal Star of Monday night, as follows:
Canadian Pacific traffic earnings for the month of February show an increase of $1,608,000. while those of the Canadian National increased $2,636,797, making a combined increase of $4,244,797 over February of last year.
I was sorry to hear the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George criticize the Canadian National railway system and its management, but I rejoiced to-day when the hon. member for South Wellington tried to reinstate the Tory party in the confidence of the people by praising the Canadian National Railways and Sir Henry Thornton. Undoubtedly the sentiment throughout Canada is that the criticism of the hon, member for St. Lawrence-St. George was unjust and unmerited. I congratulate Sir Henry Thornton on the splendid spirit that he has engendered in his employees. I wish to pay tribuate to the employees of both our railway systems, and to assure them that the successful operation of these railways is due more to their co-operation than to any other factor.
The Budget-Mr. Howard
Now, Mr. Speaker, I turn to an item in the budget that has not been .referred to very much on this side of the house, and has not even been mentioned by our friends opposite, but nevertheless to my mind it is one of the most important things in the budget. On page 508 of Hansard the Minister of Finance shows that he has a surplus of nearly $55,000,000, but he has reduced the net debt of Canada by only $39,000,000. Naturally this raises the inquiry: Why is not the whole of the surplus set aside in reduction of the national debt? The explanation is simple. The government had to face a loss of nearly $16,000,000 on account of the poor administration of their predecessors. The government could not decrease the net debt of the country to the full amount of the surplus because after the war the Tory government d-evised a scheme to rehabilitate our returned soldiers by placing on farms those who wanted to take up farming. I do not criticize the motive; it was splendid. But I do criticize what happened. The figures in the budget show exactly what did happen. These men sent their friends throughout Canada to purchase farms, and in my own section, as well as in other sections, the prices paid were according to the degree of friendship which existed between the purchaser employed by the government and the man who had a farm for sale. As a result the government to-day is revaluing the soldier settlement lands and trying to give to the returned men, who paid a great deal more than their farms were worth, a square deal, and so in a small way recompense them for the great service they rendered their country overseas.
At this juncture I might contrast the direction of the policy of soldier re-establishment under the Tory government in 1920 and 1921 with the administration of the department under the present government. I wish to congratulate the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Forke) on the splendid work he has done and is doing in this connection. I can assure the house that in the eastern townships, in which of course I am more particularly interested, we have one of the finest committees on revaluation to be found anywhere in Canada. That committee comprises men who are not politicians but who enjoy the complete confidence of the entire district which they are endeavouring to serve. I am sure that in that section the soldiers will secure justice. And we owe them justice. The fact still remains, however, that the Minister of Finance could not further reduce the debt this year by $16,000,000 on account of the money wasted by the Tories in the purchase of those farms. One more
suggestion I would offer in regard to the treatment of our soldiers. I trust that, even if it may not appear on the statute books of Canada, our government and our government officials will stretch a point, if they have to go out of their way in some cases, to give full justice to these men or to their wives, families and dependents when perhaps their case does not absolutely come within the letter of the law.
This brings me to another item in the budget speech which I wish to touch upon, namely, the 'refunding scheme. Everyone is cognizant of the fact that throughout Canada nearly all of the financial institutions and trust companies are quite keen on gome scheme of refunding the war debt. For my part I think it would be a splendid thing, but I was pleased to read, on page 509 of Hansard, in the budget speech of the Minister of Finance, the following words:
" I submit that until Canada is nearer the pre-war rate of taxation, annual reduction of taxes is as important as reduction of debt. Our policy is to reduce both."
With which I agree. I submit this for the consideration of every Canadian citizen: This generation, from 1914 to 1928, has suffered to pay the price of the war; in 50,000 Canadian homes there is the vacant chair which indicates their participation in the war. Some of our financial men have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as a direct result of the war, and more than ever our working and labouring population is still bearing the brunt of the struggle. Why, then, ask this generation to curtail still further in order to pay off the debt of the country? Have we not done our share? Let us reduce taxes and use the surpluses we have each year to build up Canada and to make this country a greater place to live in than it is to-day, so that we may beable to hand on to the future a heritageworth while. Let us leave to our children's children the paying off of the war debt, seeing that we have done our share, and especially in view of the fact that it is inthe best interests of this Dominion for us
to leave to posterity, after we have played our part in the war, a going concern, a country greater than it is to-day.
I am reminded of the picture painted in the house the other day by the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion). Certainly the hon. member was experiencing one of his off days when he depicted all the closed factories throughout Canada. As he painted that picture I wondered what he was referring to, and I came to the conclusion that possibly the hon. member for Fort
The Budget-Mr. Howard
William had passed through Oshawa on the day the automobile factories were closed while the employees were in Ottawa in a delegation.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE