Mr. W. K. ESLING (West Kootenay):
Mr. Speaker, it has been said that when a compliment goes from those who sit on your left to those who sit on your right it should be accompanied by a brick, but to-night I am going to omit the brick and to acknowledge and to thank the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Euler) for his courtesy in connection with a matter which materially affected a mining section of my district. Had he taken the course which the case justified and adopted stringent measures, the pay of a number of miners would have been materially affected. It would have prejudiced a number of miners working leased properties; it would have jeopardized the position of a number of creditors, and it would have retarded, at least temporarily, mining development. The minister was very considerate and generous;
I may say that the matter was satisfactorily settled all round, and I am glad to be able to make this acknowledgment.
The Budget-Mr. Esling
I want also to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) on the successful installation of a pre-cooling plant at Wynndel, in my district. It has been a great aid to the berry and fruit growers, and while it was completed only last year it served a very effective purpose, a particular instance being cited in connection with some thirty tons of strawberries. These strawberries would otherwise have been a total loss, but they were saved by the ability to put them in this pre-cooling plant. They were processed and cooled to freezing point; then they wore packed in barrels and shipped seven weeks later netting the owners some four thousand dollars. Shipments from this district, namely, the Creston district, in 1927, amounted to just over half of a million dollars; it is one of the banner fruit and berry districts of British Columbia. The yields were as follows:
Forest products $225,000
Fruit and vegetables 255,000
Poultry products 35,000
Live stock, and so on 10,000
There were 92,376 boxes of apples shipped, which brought 8133,000. And next to apples come the strawberries. Creston is a wonderful strawberry district. They pick the berries in the morning and the next morning without change of cars they are on the market at Calgary.
I have this little memorandum of production from the Creston Review which I should like to put on Hansard:
The great revenue getter was strawberries with an outgo of 30,000 crates, for an intake of $60,000. In addition to this 15 tons went out for jam manufacture, and another 30 tons were processed and shipped to Toronto for making soda fountain cordials, flavourings, etc. Of this creditable total it must be stated that fully 75 per cent was produced at Wynndel.
Of raspberries 6,716 crates were marketed, worth $15,113, and when to strawberries and raspberries is added the value of the loganberries, blackberries, gooseberries exported, Creston district can claim a 1927 berry crop worth not less than $85,000. Red and black currants, placed at 1,526 crates, were worth about $3,000.
Probably no other district in the interior of British Columbia has such splendid marketing advantages or such a promising future. Extensive reclamation projects are in view which will add materially to the vast area of fertile land in that district.
I should like to say just a few words about the budget, because that portion of any budget in any country which contains even a suggestion of reduced taxation is always a good political gesture as indeed is any measure likely to lighten an individual's financial burden; and nobody knows this better than 56103-72J
the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) himself. He had experience in the last campaign; instead of going from place to place excusing and explaining and denying and defending the shortcomings and the sins of omission and commission of his colleagues and his party generally, he simply talked about reduced taxation and he got away with it. It may be very truly said that many of those who sit on your right owe their membership in this house to-night to the policy adopted by the Minister of Finance of merely talking about reduced taxation.
As regards this reduction of ten per cent in the income tax, while a ten per cent reduction sounds very fine it does not mean so much when one remembers that Canada has a population of 9.000,000 people of whom only 116,000 pay this income tax, so that practically 8,900,000 are not affected by this reduction to the extent of one penny. It means that the rank and file of the population of Canada, people earning say less than S3,000 a year, will not benefit to the extent of one penny. Nor does it mean anything to the mani on the ten or twenty-acre plot of land who depends for his living on the sale of farm products, vegetables, poultry and so forth. While this cut in the tax does lessen the burden on the big fellow, I think everybody agrees that it is the big fellow who should pay the bill, and if there is one fair tax in Canada it is the income tax.
Had the budget provided for the total abolition of the sales tax by the end of 1928, as urged by the Conservative amendment, practically every wage-earner and every small farmer in the Dominion would have benefited. I think people seldom realize when they are paying a sales tax. A family of five, a man, his wife and three children, living in a moderate v;ay, will have to pay a tax of $20 per year on their clothing, but simply because the sales tax is not marked on the bottom of the bill people fail to realize that they are paying it. Or take the case of a man who is building a house. He seldom realizes that he is paying sales tax on the materials entering into that house, whereas as a matter of fact it is estimated that sixty per cent of the cost of a 63,000 house goes into material, and on that the man is paying sales tax: in other words even under the proposed reduction in the sales tax the man who puts up a $3,000 house will still pay $52 in sales tax.
I want to speak of my own particular district for a few moments, because naturally every member is interested in emphasizing the conditions in his own district. I want to show how the tax anodes in some communr
The Budget-Mr. Esling
ties. In the town of Trail, for instance, during the past five years, the expenditures on dwellings, business blocks and public improvements have amounted to $2,206,000, on which sales tax amounting to $53,000 has been paid. In addition to that we have a very progressive industrial institution in that city, which in the last five years has paid approximately $180,000 in sales tax on the materials used in their construction work.
When you buy a motor car, no matter how cheap it is, you have to pay a sales tax of from $25 to $40 on the car. My district, as well as the adjoining one represented by the Minister of Health in this government (Mr. King), who is the minister for British Columbia, is composed almost entirely of wage earners and small farmers, and they would have retained a very much larger proportion of their pay cheques if the sales tax had been abolished last year as urged in the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition. He then urged the total abolition of the sales tax on clothing, and I find by Hansard of March 17, 1927, that the hon. member for East Kootenay (Mr. King), the minister for British Columbia, in whose district, as I said, there is a very large percentage of wage-earners, was not very solicitous then about the families of the wage-earners because he voted against the amendment to abolish the sales tax on the family wardrobe.
It is to be regretted that the Minister of Finance has not seen his way clear to abolish double taxation on dividends. There is one thing a young and growing country needs, and that is outside capital to aid in developing its resources. The investor is naturally prejudiced against a country in which his returns are taxed twice as compared with a country in which they are taxed only once. At the conference on taxation that was held in October last, the Dominion government was requested to discontinue the practice of double taxation, and I regret that it has not done so in this budget.
I am now going to refer to a matter which might perhaps more properly be brought up when the estimates are under discussion, but I bring it to the attention of the government now because the need is,urgent. I refer to the necessity for the immediate construction of a public building in Trail. It has been announced by the government that an item for a public building in Trail will be noted in the preparation of the supplementaries, but as this must be approved by the cabinet in council, I wish to make a few observations in its support. Last session the Minister of
Public Works (Mr. Elliott) said that it was the policy of the government to erect public buildings only where the accommodation was inadequate and the necessity urgent. That is a sensible and businesslike policy with which I agree, and I propose to show that the needs of Trail come under that head. There can be no excuse for not erecting a public building in Trail on the ground of lack of funds, because the Finance minister in his budget speech stated that there was a surplus of $54,000,000 and estimated revenues sufficient to meet the needs of a growing country. A site for a public building was bought and paid for in the city of Trail in September of 1925, and I have a letter and a wire here dated September 27, 1927, from the resident architect at Victoria, saying that the matter was of great urgency, as indicated by a telegram from the Public Works department at Ottawa. It was of great urgency then, Mr. Speaker-that was just four weeks before the election-but unfortunately since that time nobody in the government has been interested in the matter. According to the 1921 census the city of Trail had a population of 3,020, and that number has increased to-day to 8,500, or approximately 9,000. To show the deplorable lack of accommodation in the post office, I would point out that there are from three to five families shar-in a post office box, and 500 additional boxes are needed to meet the applications on hand. Nobody wants the government to spend money foolishly, but I say that the men going off shift from the great industrial plant at Trail are entitled to adequate postal service, and the most deplorable feature in Trail at present is the post office and customs accommodation. There is located at Trail the largest metallurgical plant in the British Empire, treating lead zinc ore from the richest mine in the world. The mine has ore blocked out to a value in excess of one billion dollars. The plant produces pure gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, antimony and by-products to a value of nearly forty million dollars a year. It furnishes 10 per cent of the world's lead supply and 7 per cent of the zinc supply. It produces daily 400 tons of lead, 300 tons of zinc and 70 tons of copper. It pays more than one per cent of Canada's total freight bill by rail and water. The company is capitalized at $15,000,000, while to-day the shares are selling on the open market at a price equivalent to a total value of $165,000,000.
The permanency of the city for which we are asking this public building is emphasized by the fact that the company has loaned its employees $700,000 for the purpose of
The Budget-Mr. Esling
erecting homes. The company itself has erected a $100,000 store building, a $100,000 hospital-and, by the way, it is the last word in hospitals of its size-and contributed $35,000 to a memorial building. It has also advanced money and made possible the construction of an artificial rink at a cost of $50,000. The life of each employee is insured under the group plan. After a certain period of service with the company an employee is retired on pension. The company maintains the largest herd of pure-bred Ayrshires in the Dominion for the purpose not only of supplying the residents of Trail with milk, but of furnishing a bottle of milk every day to each of the men employed around' the lead furnace. At Christmas-I just want to show you that this company is intensely human-each married employee receives a gift of $50 in cash and a turkey; each single employee a gift of $25 in cash and the equivalent of a turkey in merchandise. After three years' service an employee is given a share of stock, the market value of which to-day is $274. As I said before, it is an intensely human institution, and the pity is there are not more in Canada.
Trail's payroll is nearly $5,000,000 a year. The company, together with the community, pays annual taxes to the province and to the federal government of $2,000,000. Last year they paid into the federal treasury in taxes a sum equivalent to six times the total expenditure on federal public buildings in British Columbia, including rents, repairs, and mortgage interest on a federal purchase in Vancouver. Although the federal treasury has received this immense sum, the federal government has not in thirty years spent one solitary dollar in Trail, with the exception of the $11,000 Which it paid for the purchase of the site to which I have referred. Every street in the city is paved with concrete, and the sidewalks are of cement. In the past five years the company has done construction work to the value of $7,000,000, and the city has issued building permits for dwelling houses and local improvements to the value of $2.000,000. The customs and excise duties collected in Trail for the fiscal year 1926-27 amounted to $120,000, and the post office revenue for the same fiscal year ranks Trail No. 9 out of 931 post offices in the whole province.
Now, Mr. Speaker, these facts would indicate that there is certainly good reason for urging the erection of a post office in Trail. It was only a few days ago that I received a telegram from the city council asking that the government be urged to have such a
public building completed this year, as the situation is urgent. First of all, there is a. lack of accommodation, and then there is urgency. The hon. Minister of Public Works stated his policy was to erect public buildings where there was a lack of accommodation, and urgent necessity. Here both conditions prevail. The telegram contains this paragraph :
The rent of the present building has lately heavily increased, with the consequence of an increase in box rents, making these box rents higher than anywhere else.
I wish particularly to impress upon the minister the lack of accommodation. I have a letter from the Ratepayers' Association of East Trail which says:
As the company is daily adding to its number of employees the congestion becomes greater. With so many cars in our city it is dangerous to send children after school hours and too far for our wives to make the trip,-
I may say this refers to East Trail, which is about a mile from the post office.
-so it falls on the men to call for the mail on the way home, and they soon tire waiting in this line, and go off home without the mail.
There is further evidence of lack of accommodation. I have also the report of the post office inspector dated September 16, 1926, in which he recites:
That there are 1.047 boxes in the Trail office; that the postmaster could rent 1,500, that he estimates in three years Trail's population will reach 12,000.
Then the inspector adds:
I would respectfully request that a public building be proceeded with as soon as possible.
There you have the inspector himself recommending the construction of a public building as soon as possible. He also suggests that the post office contain 2,100 boxes instead of 1,047 as at present. Surely that is further evidence of lack of accommodation. He further suggests that the new building should have three times the present square feet of floor space. This is more evidence of lack of accommodation. Now let me give an extract from the Nelson Daily News, pulished at Nelson, fifty miles from Trail. In an editorial I find the following:
The Nelson Daily News hopes that the request of the Trail board of trade for a public building will receive in this case a little more than the usual "earnest consideration".
And here is another passage from this editorial:
There are conditions of congestion; that Trail post office is notorious.
Let me quote further from the editorial:
The present post office quarters now rank as wholly inadequate and temporary.
The Budget-Mr. Esling
In a letter dated February 3, 1927, the hon. Minister of Health of British Columbia writes me as follows:
I am thoroughly conversant with the matters of that district, and it was with a view of giving better accommodation that I recommended the purchase of property in Trail some time ago, it being my intention to advocate the erection of a suitable building on the site.
I hope the Minister of Health (Mr. King) in meeting of the cabinet council will advocate the erection of this building.
I have another letter. It is from the deputy postmaster general:
As to post office accommodation, the district superintendent reports that the present premises are inadequate and that a new and suitable building should be erected. A recommendation to this effect has already been forwarded to the Department of Public Works and it is understood that the matter is under consideration.
I have also a letter from the Postmaster General himself as follows:
I may say that the construction of public builidngs is a matter of policy resting with the Minister of Public Works, but I have already made representations to his department that the accommodations at present provided at Trail are totally inadequate and have urged the erection of a suitable public building.
I think I have shown that the policy of the Minister of Public Works applies to Trail.
Last year Canada celebrated1 its sixtieth anniversary. Flags were flying, bells were ringing, and everybody rejoiced from coast to coast. Altogether it was a wonderful celebration, one that would have gratified the fathers of confederation could they have witnessed the festivities and observed what has been accomplished in Canada in the sixty years from the time those strong and able colonial statesmen framed the act which gave us our constitution. They would have rejoiced to know that we to-day have an educational system in Canada equal to any in the world1; that we have a transportation system which encircles the globe; that we have huge water power developments and industrial activities; and that we enjoy all the modern comforts of the most advanced nation. It would, I say, have been an inspiring revelation to the fathers of confederation. Following that celebration came the imperial conference, from which Canada emerged with an allegedly mew constitutional status. We have been basking in the sunshine of absolute autonomy; we have been negotiating commercial treaties; and we have been sending ambassadors in every direction. All this makes a thrilling and inspiring picture to hang in the gallery of world progress, because Canada is a great and independent nation,
I want to give you another picture by way of contrast. The affairs of this great and independent nation are to-day administered by a government which, without a hearing, without any charges upon which to proceed, and against the written protests of ninety per cent of a community, saw fit to remove a little country postmaster in order that they might appease the appetite of some hungry Grit who wanted to possess himself of the office, the actual remuneration of which is less than one dollar per week. There is located on the Arrow lakes in British Columbia a little community known as Renata. That community is composed of just sixty-one adult souls, all thrifty, enterprising and industrious fruit growers. In the early part of 1927 a vacancy occurred in the post office and fifty-five of these sixty-one persons signed a petition for the appointment of the storekeeper; the other applicant was a Liberal returning officer, road boss and justice of the peace. The Postmaster General must have done so inadvertently, but he appointed the storekeeper, and I have a letter which states that the Liberal returning officer made the boast that within six months he would be postmaster in that community. Well, within not six months but precisely nine weeks from the day of the appointment of the storekeeper word was received, not from the inspector, not from the department, but from the Postmaster General himself-the Postmaster General of this great and independent nation-firing that little country storekeeper whose remuneration was less than one dollar per week. The community protested; it forwarded its protest to Ottawa. But nothwith-standing that fact their representations were ignored; their protests were of no avail. As a community they got together and said, We will not go to the new post office, but will patronize the postal service of the river boats. And to show that they were in earnest, I may mention the fact that whereas the receipts of Renata post office for the last nine months under the new Liberal appointee have been $70, for the corresponding nine months of last year they amounted to $162. The people send one of their community out to the new Liberal post office to get their mail and they bring it to this little store where it is distributed.
I asked for a return of the correspondence in this matter, and naturally enough I expected the correspondence which led to the dismissal of the former postmaster. All I received was the correspondence that took place after his dismissal. There was one letter in which the statement was made that it had been deemed advisable to make the change because of a
The Budget-Mr. Lucas
change of site. But the site which suits the people is near the wharf, the only outlet for the community, whereas the office of the new postmaster is half a mile out of town, inconvenient to the people of the community. This is a picture which hangs in the gallery of public opinion and shows the political degeneracy of this government. I will add this, however: My personal regard for the ministers on the other side is too great to allow me to think for one moment that the majority of them would condone such a removal. But a government must be judged by the company it keeps, just like an individual. I do not know what part the minister from British Columbia played in this particular affair, but the fact remains that he was the sole survivor of the last Liberal wreck in that province, and anyone wanting a job would naturally appeal to his influence. That was why I asked for the return.
I w'ant to say a word about mining, because of the new activity in the development of our mines. The advances which have been made in metallurgical research warrant the conclusion that it will not be long before the value of the mineral output of Canada equals that of wheat. The value of last year's wheat production was approximately $450,000,000, while last year's mineral production was valued at $241,000,000. With the advances in metallurgy we are now able to treat more complex ores and ores of lower grade, and under this development northern Ontario and Quebec as well as Manitoba will, it is fair to assume, show a healthy increase in mineral output. Experiments in the recovery and utilization of the iron content of the smelter slag are proceeding at Trail, and I hope before long we shall be turning out iron there in addition to the other products.
In this connection I should just like to say that we in Trail, in common with the rest of this Dominion, should feel extremely proud of the fact that last week, in the city of New York, Mr. S. G. Blaylock, manager of the Trail smelter, was awarded the James Douglas gold medal by the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers for the greatest commercial achievement in metallurgy. The history of this award dates back to the time of the war, when the allies were paying 45 and 48 cents ,per pound for zinc, the supply of which was practically controlled by a New York syndicate. Mr. Blaylock and his research staff at the Trail smelter solved the process of separating zinc from ores, as a result of which the Trail smelter was able to supply the allies with zinc at 15 cents per pound. I think, Mr. Speaker, that if the federal Department of Mines would step on it and speed up its research department some day we might hope for equal honours to be achieved by that department.
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE