prepared, I am sure, to accept those figures as he has given them and to base our criticism upon them. While I heartily agree with the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Harris) in his desire to uphold the dignity and traditions of the House, and while I congratulate the hon. member on the most excellent spirit in which he presented his ideas for our consideration, yet I do not share his opinion that what the Finance Minister presented yesterday was a 'splendid showing.' Those figures, to my mind, disclosed a condition which should call not for rejoicing but for very serious and careful consideration. I do not wish to approach this discussion in any spirit of pessimism. I share the feelings of the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Harris) that we should not be pessimists; how, in fact, could we be pessimists in this Canada of ours. But I do deny that I am necessarily guilty of pessimism if as a member of the opposition I bring to bear on the statement which the Minister of Finance has presented, a careful scrutiny and if as the result of that examination I find grounds for criticism and for protest. I feel that only when the duty of the opposition is rightly performed can we expect the best results under our system of government.
Our credit, as is admitted by all, is the basis of our hope for future prosperity. We should all be extremely jealous of the financial credit of the Dominion of Canada. If that be in any way injured, or even if its reputation be tarnished, we must expect to suffer seriously in future and it is for that reason that we are justified in looking for such indications, in bringing them to the attention of the government and in asking the ministers to do all they can to keep the credit of Canada at the highest possible level.
WTTen we come to examine these public accounts, the first striking feature, and it cannot escape the most casual observer, is the rapid increase in expenditure which has occurred under this present administration. Go back to the year 1897 and you will find that we were then expending the sum of $43,000,000 per annum. By 1906 this expenditure had doubled, in that year it amounted to $83,250,000. For the last year, 1908-9, which closed a few weeks ago, the total expenditure amounted up to $132,000,000, if I correctly understood the Minister of Finance. That is an expenditure treble what was considered to be sufficient twelve years ago; treble what was denounced as extravagant by the Liberals when they were in opposition prior to 1896. It would seem as though it were absolutely impossible for the Finance Minister and the government to now apply the brakes. Certainly they have found it impossible to apply them during the last few years.
I shall not discuss this much debated question of surpluses. I do not think it necessary to consider all the budget speeches which have been delivered in the last 25 years; all we need are the figures in the public accounts, and there we have no difficulty in finding just the amount of the over-expenditure for every year since confederation. By over-expenditure I mean simply the total amount expended in excess of the total receipts and if we compare our system of accounting with that of Great Britain, the United States, Australia or any other country, that would be the only fair method of reckoning. If we look over the statement of the net difference between receipts and expenditures we find that for 1907-8 we ran behind $14,-
300,000, and for the year 1908-9, according to the minister's confession of yesterday, we ran behind something over $46,000,000, making for the two years now under consideration a total over-expenditure exceeding $60,000,000. You may take the records of all the years since confederation, you may examine these figures, line upon line, even in the periods of the largest expenditure, and you will never find any two consecutive years that will even approximate the present figures. They are unparalleled, unapproached in the history of Canada. You may add all the over-expenditures of the last 20 years together and they will not equal the over-expenditures of the two years which are now under consideration.
Was this done at a time when the revenues showed indications of increase? quite the reverse. In the years 1907-8 we had a revenue of $96,000,000 and in the year 1908-9 we had a revenue of $84,500,000, and yet the expenditure of the latter year exceeded the expenditure of the former year, large though it was, by twenty million dol-iars. And the Minister of Finance knew when he came to this House last year to put through that enormous budget under which an expenditure of $132,000,000 has been incurred in the last twelve months, he knew that the revenues were diminishing compared with the previous year. He had the returns before him monin after month, and the fact was announced throughout the press that we were certainly destined to have a smaller revenue than we had the year before, and yet he was prepared to ask the House to vote estimates under which $20,000,000 were to be spent in excess of the largest amount ever expended in any single year in the history of Canada. I am reminded of a passage that I read in an interesting book which recently came under my notice, entitled 'Bygone Bays', by Mr. Leveson Gower. In that book there is an episode which tells of a society woman of London who was so actively engaged in performing her social
duties that she stood in great danger of breaking down, and a friend went to her and said: 'Mrs. X., be careful, you are burning the candle at both ends.' And Mrs. X. instantly replied: 'Oh, and is not that the way to make both ends meet ? ' I commend that to the Minister of Finance as typical of the manner in which the finances of the country are being managed by him.
A further striking feature that appears to the observer in connection with these accounts, as a necessary consequence of over-expenditure, is the vast increase in the public debt which the figures show. The figures of the gross debt, as near as we can ascertain, have within the past two years increased by $85,000,000; the figures of the net debt which more especially concern us in matters of debate, have increased during these two years by over $60,000,000. That too is an absolutely unprecedented increase in the history of Canadian finance. You can look over the financial history of Canada since confederation, _ and you will never find two years succeeding one another that approximate that amount of increase. You will find that -more has been added to the debt in the last two years than was added during the whole period of twenty years from 1887 to 1907. Think of it, that in two years the debt should be increased by this government to as great an extent as it had been increased in a score of years under both the Liberal and Conservative administrations. And, the Minister of Finance himself admits that we are only entering on this period of vast expenditures. He knows we are only a part way across the river; he knows that the National Transcontinental Railway is as yet not one-third completed and yet $52,000,000 have gone into it; he knows that the prairie section is about to receive a $10,000,000 advance; he knows that the mountain section has hardly been commenced and yet that we must guarantee an amount approximating $50,000,000. The Minister of Finance expects, on his own figures, to add $25,000,000 to the debt in this coming year; he will be very fortunate if he gets off with so small an amount. And, if that be continued for the two succeeding years, as we have every reason to believe it will, then you will find that in the period of five years from 1908 to 1913, (that is to-say during the life of this parliament and the year immediately preceding), there will have been added to the debt of this country $135,000,000, a five years' record exceeding that of the entire last quarter of a century. In 1882 the net debt of the country stood at a little over $153,600,000; in 1907 the net debt of the country stood at $263,600,000. There had been an increase during that twenty-five year period of $110,000,000 or $4,400,000 per year. Compare that with the
And, when you come down to the 31st of July, you find that the government of Canada, in England and in the banks of this country, taking all the accounts together had only $995,604 to its credit in available cash. Do you believe, Mr. Speaker, that there has been any time in the history of Canada since confederation when our bank balance was so low? Do you suppose that any of the provinces, unless, possibly, Prince Edward Island, carries a bank balance much less than that? Yet here we find ourselves, this great Dominion of Canada, with only $995,604 for which we can write cheques and draw the money. And even that sum if I am rightly informed, was not all available, because our contracts with some of these banks provide that we must leave minimum balances which cannot be touched ; and therefore it is probable that the government had drawn out practically every available dollar it had to its credit by July 31, 1907. Then, what did they do? They started in to raise money on temporary loans. The history of the temporary loans also shows how hard-up this government must have been during that period. Look back over the history of Canada, and you will find a great many occasions when the Finance Minister could come to this House at the end of the fiscal year and say to the members of parliament : ' Gentlemen, we have not one dollar of temporary loans Of all the years between 1871 and 1884 that was true-not a dollar of tempor-porary loans at the end of the year. Also from 1900 and 1903-four years-the Minister of Finance could meet parliament and say that there were no temporary loans. But what is the record of these last two years which are uow under consideration ? In May June and July, there was no liability. In August a loan of $2,433,000 was made. By January, 1908, temporary borrowings had gone up to $7,300,000. From February to May, 1908, the amount stood at $9,300,000; in June at $18,000,000, where it remained during June and July, going back to $15,600,000 in August, September, October, November and December. I believe that, since the first of the year on one occasion, we had an indebtedness of $20,000,000 on temporary loans-the government owed that amount to its bankers.
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS.-THE BUDGET.