Mr. C. E. BOTHWELL (Swift Current) :
Mr. Speaker, after listening to the various speeches on the budget it would almost appear that there was nothing further to be said, but every hon. member seems to be able to rarse something new. I intend for a few minutes to speak in the hope that I may be able to disabuse the minds of some hon. gentlemen of the wrong impressions that have been conveyed to them.
Let me say, though, that I have no doubt hon. members on both sides of the House are anxious only to assist in legislation that will be in the interests of Canada as a whole. We cannot all see things alike, and we are all prone to take a different view of the same set of facts. But we do hope that a thorough discussion of any subject may enable us to arrive at a conclusion that will give us a proper solution of our difficulties. We are somewhat prone to stress the importance of our own constituency or our own province, but I think we all realize that no matter what part of Canada we come from we all belong to this great Dominion and must assist m legislation which is in the interests of the country as a whole.
It must be a matter of congratulation to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb)-indeed, to everyone-to see that we are at last emerging to some degree from the clouds of debt with which we have been surrounded. We know the Great war entailed a tremendous expense, and that we had to assume tremendous obligations after the war during the period of reconstruction. An enormous debt was then piled up, and it is now our duty to see that debt liquidated. Our favourable position, as announced by the Minister of Finance in his budget address, is to no small extent resultant from the bounteous crops with which we have been favoured for the past two years, but our bounteous harvests are not sufficient without other means by which use can be made of them. The Minister of Finance was able to announce that Canada's favourable financial position is due in part to the trade treaties into which Canada has entered. Those treaties, together with the wonderful harvests, have enabled us to bring forward the budget which was presented the other day.
Since this session opened I have at times been alarmed by the statements made from opposition benches as to the dire straits in which Canada found itself. During the early days of the session particularly, we were almost convinced that we were on the verge of bankruptcy; from what various hon. members opposite said we might almost have thought our own conclusions wrong. We had been led to believe that Canada was in a fairly prosperous position, judging from newspaper reports, statements of financial institutions, market reports of various kinds and agricultural conditions generally. Imagine then, how we looked on the situation when we heard what hon. members had to say in this House. We were also surprised to learn, coming from a province which has been developing its dairy industry, that the dairy and poultry industries were being destroyed by the Australian treaty; we could scarcely believe it. I believe that suggestion has been dissipated by the speeches since made in this House, and I do not intend to deal with that question. We were also surprised to learn, from the speeches of hon. members opposite, that there was no legislative programme in favour of the farmers of Canada; now we hear that the legislative programme is all in favour of the farmers of western Canada.
The Speech from the Throne held out hopes of a legislative programme in the in terests of Canada from shore to shore. It is true that Maritime conditions were such as to make it a difficult matter for any government to bring down legislation which would satisfy the people of the Maritimes. I have listene 1
The Budget-Mr. Bothwell
to the speeches in this House dealing with Maritime rights, and I must confess that I do not yet know definitely just what Maritime rights are, nor do I know what legislation the Maritime righters require in order to have their claims satisfied. We are told of promises made when the Maritime provinces entered confederation; those promises, . so far as I know, have been fulfilled. Then we are told of understandings reached between various parts of Canada at that time, and judging from some of the speeches there were some such understandings. If it is possible for the people of Canada to carry out not only those promises but the understandings as well, that should be done, but I believe we will know '' at those understandings and rights are **' ugii the commission appointed to inquire into this question. Surely that commission can bring recommendations to this House which will result in legislation to relieve, to some extent at all events, the people of the Maritimes.
It is claimed that immediate steps should be taken to encourage and foster the coal industry in the Maritimes. We expect the commission to go into that question and make recommendations, but I do not know whether the claims made for the Maritimes would be permanent solution of those difficulties. I hardly know whether sufficient stress has been placed on the condition of the coal industry, not only in the Maritimes but throughout the world.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL